Your Nonprofit’s Missed Opportunity: Are Your Volunteers Also Donors?

Does asking your volunteers to consider donating financially feel somewhat… icky to you? Like you’re asking for too much and don’t want to mess up the good thing the two of you have got going?

Although this thinking is understandable, it may be causing you to miss out on your biggest donors. Research has uncovered that people who volunteer are 10x more likely to donate financially than non-volunteers, and 50% say they give more financial support because they volunteer (Fidelity Charitable Time & Money Report, 2014).

If you’ve been wondering how to combat underwhelming donor retention rates and you haven’t been tapping into this opportunity to cross-pollinate between these two groups, it’s time to refresh your game plan! So just how can you convert your volunteers into donors?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find Out What It Means To Me


Always, always, always treat your volunteers with the utmost respect. They never need to be out there giving their free time to your organization when they surely have a dozen other responsibilities to take care of. So acknowledge the value they bring to your team, be specific so they know you truly see the fruits of their labor, and remind them often of your appreciation.

Don’t Ask & The Answer Will Always Be ‘No’

This might sound obvious, but develop an intentional process for asking your volunteers to give (most people don’t give because they were never asked!). You might consider planning various asks depending on how long someone has volunteered with you, their age or engagement level, or the scope of the volunteer work they’ve done.

If It’s Not Fun, You’re Not Doing It Right

How much larger of a tip are you likely to give after a great meal while surrounded by friends who are all in just as good of a mood as you are?! Okay sure, a drink or two might’ve helped, but the point still stands — people are more likely to give when they’re in great spirits, good company, and treated well. 

Don’t underestimate the power of a fun, memorable volunteer experience! This is an excellent and low-stress opportunity to ask your volunteers for their financial support during your most popular volunteer appreciation events.

Let Them Set It And Forget It

Monthly giving revenue increased by 40% in 2017, and accounted for 16% of all online nonprofit revenue in the same year — up from 2% the previous year (Nonprofits Source, Charitable Giving Statistics 2018). It’s clear that people want to give, but they also want it to be as easy as possible.

Ask your volunteers to consider supporting your cause for as little as $10 a month, eventually bumping up the ask to $20, $35, etc. Using donor segmentation, you can tailor your appeal appropriately to match smaller and larger donors’ level of support. These automated recurring payments can lead to a substantial jump in annual revenue for your nonprofit. 

Seriously, Just Make It Easy On Them To Help You

Make it waaaay too easy for your volunteers to give whenever is a right time for them. Asking for a financial contribution from your volunteers doesn’t have to be complicated or overly in-your-face, and you don’t have to feel slimy about it.

Pop in a "Give Today” button at the end of your volunteer e-newsletters, and have easy, instant payment options like PayPal, Apple/Google Pay, Stripe, and all major credit and debit cards. Basically, can your supporters give on-the-go just as easily as they can shop online at their favourite retailers? If yes, you’re on the right track.

It’s not surprising that donors and volunteers, though sometimes segmented into two different groups by nonprofits, are often one and the same. If your organization isn’t already leveraging the clear overlap between your volunteers and donors, this is the perfect opportunity to create new value from your existing supporters. 

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