Volunteers OR Donors? Think Again.

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About the author: Tess Srebro of VolunteerMatch is a Marketing & Language-Crafting Expert with a Master’s of Nonprofit Leadership and a B.A. in Public Relations. You can read more of her work at VolunteerMatch’s blog for nonprofit organizations: Engaging Volunteers.

Volunteer-donor hybrids are more common than you might think. This post looks at why this is the case and how to encourage it, as well as how to avoid some common mistakes.

True or false?

Volunteers donate their time because they are unable or unwilling to donate money.

Sometimes? True. Most of the time? False.

According to research, two thirds of volunteers donate money to the same organizations they volunteer for. Also, volunteers tend to donate much more than non-volunteers.

Surprised? It’s actually pretty simple.

When someone volunteers for your organization, they are likely to feel closely connected to your organization and your mission. This is especially true if you regularly:

  • Show volunteers the impact their work has on the organization and its mission.
  • Keep volunteers in the loop on what’s going on throughout the organization.
  • Involve volunteers in organizational planning by encouraging feedback.

I know that I feel personally invested in the organization I volunteer for. I get excited about the organization’s successes, and I advocate vocally for the mission. And when I was asked to donate as part of a seasonal fundraising campaign – you bet I pulled out my credit card. I knew I was already making an impact, and I saw a chance to make that impact even bigger.

But (yes, there is a but)…

How would a volunteer feel if they received a generic thank you letter for their donation that didn’t acknowledge the other ways in which they contribute? Probably not so great.

How would a donor feel if they started volunteering, and received no acknowledgement of their history with your organization? Again, probably not so great.

This is one of reasons why separating your supporters into volunteers OR donors is a mistake. Does your volunteer manager know when one of their volunteers makes a donation? They should. Make sure these communication procedures are in place.

The ultimate goal is, of course, to make your all your supporters – volunteers, donors, and those who are both – feel like the amazing part of your organization that they are.

Donor Survey: You told us . . .

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We recently sent out a survey to ask JustGive donors how we’re doing and get your opinion on some new potential giving services.

A big thank you! to the 1,356 of you who took the time to complete the survey and give us feedback. The majority of you who responded were female (69%) and Baby Boomers (49%).

Here’s what you shared with us.

Giving habits

Over half of you make a donation at least every few months, and 32% actively give more than once a month. mature_diverse_friends_9897267What prompts you to give is most often the fundraising effort of a friend or family member or an occasion (holiday, birthday, wedding, or memorial).

You use a mix of sites for your giving, but predominantly give through JustGive or websites for specific charities. You’ve given in many different ways—most frequently by donating to causes you care about, for a fundraising campaign, or as a gift or memorial donation (total 73%).

Satisfaction with JustGive services

For the majority (nearly 1,000), the overall donation experience and ease of using the website are what you are most satisfied with (76% and 72%, respectively). More than half of you are also happy with the:

  1. Number of charities you can give to (57%)
  2. Variety of ways to give (52%)
  3. Personal online Giving History (50%)

On the flip side of the coin, only about 4% are not satisfied with the overall donation experience and 3.5% aren’t as happy with the ease of using the website

Generally speaking, Millennials were slightly less satisfied than Baby Boomers with our services. So we’ll continue to work on improving that through refreshed website pages and a better user experience.

From your responses, we also learned we could do a better job talking about all the various giving services, like charity gift cards and recurring monthly donations.overall_donation_exp

Potential new services

What potential new services did you tell us you’d like? The ability to:

  1. Donate to someone else’s fundraiser for a project or cause (54%).
  2. Create a fundraiser for your project or cause (27%).
  3. Donate by text message (18%).

One of the biggest differences of opinion we saw about new services was that the ability to create a fundraiser was more desired by Millennials (born 1979 – 1994) than Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964).

So you know: We’re working on the #1 service for you. Watch for more to come this fall on our improved fundraising product.

Additional feedback 

Many of you took the time to add personal comments at the end of the survey. flower-22656_640-pixabayWe received many keep up the good work, and quick, easy, convenient to use comments about the website. J. Hansen said, “Thanks for all you do to help so many!” We appreciate your confidence and praise for JustGive.

Several of you mentioned our fees. Please know we’ll continue to operate as efficiently as possible to ensure that the most money from every dollar you give goes to your charity.

In your own words

quotes from survey responses

And from D. Kimbro, whose nonprofit uses JustGive to solicit funds: “We love your program.  It is very user friendly and easy to navigate.”

Thank you all for giving us your feedback, which we’ll use to do our best so you can just give—anytime, anywhere, for anyone.

– Candy Culver
Marketing Consultant