Let's Raise Some Money
Insights from Karen Climer about fundraising and nonprofit organizations

One Thing You Can Do To Keep Your Volunteers Volunteering

February 2nd, 2015 by Karen Climer

I believe I’ve mentioned on this blog that I have another business as a children’s entertainer – twisting balloons and performing magic. (Before you judge, check out my website at www.KarenClimer.com). I get frequent – as in at least once a week – requests to volunteer this service at charity events. I received an email request the other day that really stood out.

I volunteered for an event in 2011. The nonprofit organization was great at the event. They did everything they could to make things easy for me. I knew they appreciated my being there and entertaining the children. They respected that I was providing something they would normally have to pay for. In 2012, they asked me to volunteer again. My schedule did not permit it, so I helped them find another volunteer balloon twister. After that, I never heard a word from them. Not one email. Not one piece of mail. Not one phone call. For all I knew, they had gone out of business. Last week, out of the nowhere, the chair of this event responds to the email I sent in 2011 where I agreed to do the event, and asks me to volunteer again. In case you missed that, I said that I had not heard from the volunteer in three years. She responded to a four-year old email and asked me to volunteer.  Needless to say, I declined.

After volunteering as a balloon entertainer, I didn't hear from the nonprofit for 3 years.  I felt a little deflated (pun intended).

After volunteering as a balloon entertainer, I didn’t hear from the nonprofit for 3 years. I felt deflated (pun intended).

If you find someone who volunteers a valuable service to your organization, treat them well. My definition of a valuable service is that if a volunteer didn’t do it, you would have to pay someone to do it. In my case, that meant entertaining children at an event. But it could also mean reviewing a contract, speaking at a civic club, answering the phones, painting a room, making copies for a meeting, or hundreds of other tasks. If you find someone who is willing to do these tasks for free, be sure to let them know how much you appreciate it. Keep in touch with them throughout the year. At a bare minimum, include them on the mailing list and email list. Don’t wait until three years later when you want their help again.

Posted in Cultivation, Volunteers

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