fundraising volunteers

There’s a great article in the latest Advancing Philanthropy magazine about using volunteers to get more work done in your office.

I’m a huge proponent of using volunteers.

Over my career, I’ve enlisted fundraising volunteers to do all kinds of things, and almost every time, had great success.

If you work in a small shop, you know what it’s like to have more work than you can shake a stick at.

There’s always more to do than you can get done.  The key to effectively using volunteers is to think about those things that someone else could do, then find someone who would enjoy doing it.

Here are some things I’ve used volunteers for over the years:

  • Help with mailings.  Volunteers can be great help in folding letters and stuffing envelopes.  I like to make sure I have coffee and refreshments ready when I have folks come in to help. If there’s a TV nearby that they can watch while they stuff, even better.  If at all possible, I like to work with them to get to know them better.
  • Hand-written thank-you cards.  Sometimes there are occasions to send donors or volunteers a thank-you card.  The right volunteer (with good handwriting!) is a gem at helping get these out.
  • Special events.  If you have an event, you’re going to need extra hands.  The key here is to be very clear about exactly how many people you need and what they’ll need to do during the event.  Be sure to give them breaks and refreshments.  And if you have an event T-shirt, give them one.
  • Foundation research.  The right volunteer can help you research potential foundations for grantwriting.  I had a volunteer do this once and he really enjoyed it.  He liked that he could do it from home and I liked that he saved me TONS of time!

Volunteers can come from lots of sources: retirees, stay-at-home moms, and college students looking for practical hands-on experience.

Be sure to give them a good experience with you and they’ll come back for more.



  1. In the workplace giving arena, there are two areas where volunteers are critical – one are the workplace giving volunteers themselves, such as the men and women who conduct the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) every year in their respective agencies. As a non-profit you obviously have no control over them, but since they are helping you raise money for your charity – they should be thanked!

    The second category, is to use volunteers to augment your staff if you decide to participate in the charity fairs held by the workplace giving campaigns. Someone who is knowledgeable about both your non-profit and workplace giving, for example a retired Federal employee, can be a very valuable asset to your development efforts.

    Bill Huddleston
    The CFC Coach

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