5 Best Practices for Converting Volunteers to Donors

September 8, 2017 Eric Burger

This blog post originally appeared in npENGAGE.

It is not a secret that nonprofits need volunteers and donors to achieve their goals and carry out their mission. The question is, is your organization focusing on the volunteer base that you already have?  Many nonprofits do not know that the line between their volunteers and donors is very thin.  The value of a volunteer who donates is also on average much higher than a donor only prospect (About 10 X Higher).  In other words, your nonprofit would need about ten donors to match the average value of a volunteer who donates.  This statistic does not even include a volunteer’s time commitment and work value.  A volunteer hour is valued at over $24.00 according to an Independent Sector study.  This data all point to one conclusion.  Nonprofits need to focus effort on converting volunteers to donors efferently and effectively.

Here are 5 best practices to help you convert more volunteers to donors.

Personalize Your Prospects’ Experience

In today’s world, volunteers and donors expect a personalized experience when interacting with your nonprofit’s brand.  Creating a personalized experience that focuses on your volunteer’s preferences and the problem they are attempting to fulfill can help to convert them to donors and champions for your cause.  Creating a personalized experience for volunteers demonstrates organization and value.  Volunteers are more likely to donate if they see these qualities in your nonprofit.  Here are just a few ways that your nonprofit can create these personal experiences for your volunteer base:

Acknowledge Volunteer Participation and Accomplishments

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to convert volunteers to donors is to acknowledge volunteer participation and accomplishments towards your nonprofit’s mission and goals.  Remember that on average 70% of volunteers also donate to the cause.  If volunteers feel recognized chances are they are going to be fully committed to your organization and have greater potential as a fundraising prospect. The good news is acknowledging volunteers does not need to be challenging or expensive.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Feature volunteers in your organizations marketing materials and website (make sure they get a copy or link and agree to use)
  • Send personalized thank you notes to your volunteers after their involvement in an opportunity of event
  • Be transparent with your volunteer base and let them know of any changes taking place within the organization (communication is key)
  • Host networking events for your volunteers and their families (This is a great opportunity to leverage who your volunteers know)
  • Provide your volunteers with food and snacks while they fulfill their volunteer commitment
  • Take pictures during each volunteer event and send digital copies to all of your volunteers (sweet memories…and the opportunity for them to share on their social feeds)
  • Ask your volunteers for their opinion on how to better engage with them (again…. this is a two-way relationship)

Provide Rewarding Experiences

People volunteer for the opportunity to make a difference and feel as though their contribution matters. Nonprofits need to deliver this desire and provide volunteers with rewarding experiences that they want to share and re-engage in the future.  Retaining volunteers and converting them to donor prospects all starts with the experience that is being delivered.  Volunteers are delivering your nonprofit with real value (remember $24.00 / hour) are you returning their investment? Here are a few ways to provide volunteers with a ROT (return on their time):

  • Incorporate your nonprofits mission in all you do…always
  • Again, provide a transparent experience to your volunteers and communicate often
  • Reinforce the message that your volunteers time and efforts are valuable to the organization
  • Make volunteer experiences fun and create lifelong friendships
  • Create a brand that people want to stand behind

Implement a Volunteer Management Solution

Volunteers want to make sure that your nonprofit is organized before they agree to provide financial contributions on top of their volunteer efforts.  Volunteer management software can help to create a strategic process for managing volunteer data and promoting new opportunities to your volunteer base.  Here are a few key benefits of volunteer management software:

  • Your nonprofit can streamline the volunteer communication process by creating personalized notifications and correspondence
  • Your organization can create custom dedicated pages for specific opportunities or segmented groups or types of volunteers (remember personalization)
  • Volunteer management software can integrate with your nonprofits CRM solution and donor database to make the process on analyzing and organizing data sets more streamlined.
  • Your nonprofit can free up your volunteer coordinators time by capturing data effortlessly
  • Your organization can use data captured by your volunteer management solution to better understand your volunteers and identify when is the right time to make the fundraising ask.

Integrate with Fundraising Software

If your nonprofit organization does not have a fundraising solution than it is time to look into one.  Fundraising software offers many key benefits that can make the organizational ask easier.  Here are a few benefits of implementing a fundraising solution:

  • Access donor information whenever and wherever with a cloud based solution
  • Easily upgrade major donors with recommended gift sizes
  • Empower your organizations top funders to help your organization reach more donor prospects
  • Communicate with your donor base strategically to maintain or increase donor retention rates


Your nonprofits best donor prospects are often times the people who are already providing their time for your cause.  Your organizations best chance of converting volunteers to prospects depends on your ability to personalize their experience, acknowledge them for their wins, deliver a rewarding experience, and demonstrate organization and structure.  How is your nonprofit leveraging the 70%?


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