Volunteers are key to fundraising success; don’t be afraid to ask for help


Sometimes, you simply must ask.

We all know that volunteers are the lifeblood of any nonprofit. We ask them to pitch in at events, to stuff envelopes and to help clean our facilities.

But when it comes to recruiting volunteers to assist with capital campaigns, organizational leaders sometimes get cold feet. They create reasons for not asking: She’s too busy. We rely on him for too many other important roles. She may not want to ask people for money.

The key to successfully asking people to assist with fundraising is grounded in getting to know them. Familiarity leads to knowing what may motivate them to get involved with your capital campaign.

Before asking a volunteer for help on the campaign, inventory what you know about them:

  • Does she like to be recognized for her efforts? If so, be sure to mention the names of campaign volunteers will be included in the organization’s newsletter and on its website.
  • Does he like to be challenged? If so, mention that you will be asking him to visit with some of your donors who have the greatest capacity to give. With your help, be sure to tell him, we have a better chance of reaching our goal.
  • Does she hold your mission sacred? If so, be sure to focus on how the funds raised will allow your organization to better achieve its mission. With your help, be sure to tell her, we will be able to add two classrooms to the parish school. With your help, tell her, the money raised through this campaign will allow us to expand our children’s museum.
  • Does he thrive on helping, but would rather remain behind the scenes? If so, be sure to thank him privately time and time again for his assistance. Take him to lunch and be sure to share your thoughts about the organization. He’ll appreciate the one-on-one time with you.

You may not realize this but, as your organization’s leader, you possess what academicians call “referent power.” This means people will want to assist you just because you are the leader of the organization, and are asking for help. Volunteers will want to help you and the organization because you have made them feel important.

Simply because you asked.

I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions regarding volunteer recruitment or the professional services of the Steier Group.

VIEW ALL STEIER TIPS POSTS