I love a good mystery. So, when a check for $5,000 came in from a donor who was not on our mailing list and lived on the other side of the country, I hit the internet and started searching. Unfortunately, she had a very common name and kept a relatively low profile online. Thus, our mystery donor remained just that until about a month later, when a volunteer stopped by my office to tell me that he had received our end-of-year appeal. While he wasn’t able to give, he had passed it along to a few of his friends and family members. He wanted to know if anyone had contributed so he could call and thank them. Our mystery donor was his aunt.
This was the first year we had included volunteers in the end-of-year appeal and we received quite a few donations in response. While most of these were under $100, many were matched by employers. Better still, almost every single volunteer who gave to this mailing, gave to the end-of-fiscal-year mailing six months later.
When I first floated the idea of asking volunteers to become donors, it was not received warmly. There were some very vocal objections from staff and board members who feared that asking would offend if not downright alienate this dedicated, generous group.
But who better than volunteers, who have already demonstrated their passion and commitment to the mission, to understand the need for financial support? Who is more invested in your cause than your volunteers? Why would you not give them the opportunity to deepen their involvement?
I cringe every time I hear someone say “Our volunteers already give us so much, we couldn’t possibly ask them for money, too.” Listen, if that ask were any hotter, you’d need to wear protective gear to make it.