Originally published in Nonprofit Pro Magazine

Did you know that 80% of volunteers donated to charitable organizations? This statistic is double the giving rate of non-volunteers.


There is a good chance (probably 100%) that your nonprofit would not be able to reach its mission, of achieving good, without the support of donors. Some donors provide value by donating time (volunteers) and other donors provide financial support.

Many organizations classify volunteers and financial donors into two distinct categories, on opposite ends of the spectrum. Not looking at time-donors and financial donors holistically can cause your organization to miss out on a serious opportunity to create additional value.

Research backs up our claim that volunteers and financial donors have a clear connection. The Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS) found that people who volunteer are twice as likely to donate financially to charity.

The same study also found that almost 80% of the 62 million Americans, who volunteered last year, made a financial donation. Financial donation size is also impacted by volunteerism. A study, performed by Fidelity, found that people who volunteer donate ten times more money than those who do not volunteer.

Finally, it is crucial that your organization consider the value of time provided by volunteers. According to an Independent Sector Study, a volunteer hour is worth over $24.00 in 2018.

Imagine how much value your organization could be missing if you are not recognizing this opportunity for cross-pollination. Creating a strategy for converting donor types can impact both opportunity fulfillment and fundraising efforts for your organization.

Remember, volunteer and financial donors, share many of the same characteristics and are often the same supporter.

Bridging the Gap Between Donor Types

As mentioned in the content above, there is a strong relationship between volunteers and financial donors. Most supporters, regardless of their commitment, have a strong desire to see your organization reach its mission and goals. Both types of donors want to develop a relationship with your organization and help your nonprofit provide good to the community served.

Here are a few strategic ways to increase the value of your organization’s supporters by enticing additional involvement.

Understand Supporter Motivation

The first step in bridging the gap between volunteers and financial donors is understanding your supporters. Each nonprofit has its own set of donors and the reason they provide their time or financial resources is unique. Why do they donate time? Why do they donate money? Why do they do both?

Identifying why supporters take an action will help your organization uncover motives and find opportunities to cross-pollinate donor types based on data. Chances are your nonprofit will find that the reasons for giving are similar between time and financial donations and that altruism is at the top of the motivation list.

Personalization is Key

One of the best ways to create a positive experience for donors is through personalization. Creating personalized communications and experiences will let supporters know that your organization values them. People who feel valued are more likely to become more involved.

A recent study, performed by Accenture, actually found that 60% of people value a personalized experience when interacting with nonprofits. One of the most important parts of personalization is communicating personal impact. The same study, by Accenture, found that 66% of people value real outcomes as part of a personalized experience.

Acknowledge Participation and Accomplishments

Recognition is one of the most important ways your nonprofit can engage supporters and entice them to provide additional value to your organization. Acknowledging personal participation and accomplishments can remind donors of their value and the importance of their commitment.

Thanking donors for their support may also challenge them to do more and provide value in new ways. Finally, donor recognition is a valuable strategy in retention, and without retention, cross-pollination between donor types is impossible.

Focus on Creating Rewarding Experiences

As a nonprofit, your job is to create rewarding experiences for donors and the community that you serve. Donors who are provided a rewarding experience will continue to support your organization. Nonprofits should consider whether each component of their program is rewarding for donors.

Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Is the process to sign-up for opportunities and donate financially easy and barrier-free?
  • Are volunteers offered adequate training to perform their roles successfully and impactfully?
  • Do donors feel as though they are part of a community?
  • Are donors able to see and access the impact of their commitment year-round?
  • Do donors know of new opportunities to make a difference?

Don’t Forget to Ask

Research shows that one of the main reasons people donate time and financial resources is because they were asked to do so. Is your organization asking donors to become more involved? If not, chances are you are missing out on an opportunity.

Remember, asking donors to provide time or to commit financial resources is a delicate question and should be strategized before being implemented.

Here are a few tips on asking the right questions!

Final Thoughts

Volunteers and financial donors are similar in many ways. Each type of donor wants to make a positive impact on the community. Nonprofits that can identify the relationship, and leverage it, have the opportunity to increase the value of their contacts.

If your organization wants to bridge the gap between volunteers and financial donors learn as much as you can about supporters (volunteer management software can help!), create personalized and rewarding experiences, acknowledge accomplishments, and remember to ask for additional support.

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