October 7, 2022

Too Many Volunteers?

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by Fonda Kendrick, VolunteerHub.com

It’s a perfect storm when it comes to volunteerism in America right now, based on several factors that we’ve blogged about in the past. The baby boomers are retiring, the unemployed are looking for activities to hone their skills for resumes and simply to fill their free time, and President Obama has issued a massive call to action on the volunteer front. Based on these three streams of supply, nonprofits are currently seeing an unprecedented demand for volunteer opportunities.

In an ironic twist, many organizations that have seen a rise in their volunteer numbers have also seen a downturn in resources. Lindsay Firestone of Taproot comments, “It’s like a Greek tragedy. We’re thrilled to have all of these volunteers. But now organizations are stuck not being able to take advantage of it because they don’t have adequate funding.”

Just a few months ago, The New York Times reported a huge surge of volunteers in areas all across the country. (One hundred thousand in New York City alone!) Suddenly, many nonprofits nationwide are saying something they never thought possible: we have too many volunteers! In fact, the Times quoted one anonymous nonprofit exec as saying, “Can you make them stop calling? Everybody’s inspired by Obama,” he noted. Then he tacked on, “They also don’t have jobs.”

Others echo the executive’s sentiment. Bertina Ceccarelli of United Way in New York, states: “It’s sad but true, but the irony is that sometimes it’s almost more work to find something for a volunteer to do than to just turn them away.”

[Read more…]

Older Adult Volunteers Bring New Expertise and New Life to Nonprofits

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(ARA) -When Margaret Ross retired from a career in nursing, she had no idea that her new life as a volunteer would lead her right back into healthcare. Neither did Mike Chesnut, whose work building retail partnerships looks a lot like his volunteer service for a group of Denver nonprofits that are fighting homelessness. The same is true for retiree Berlin Hall. Since leaving his accounting executive career, Hall’s desire to help at-risk families led him to volunteer to manage the books for a family services agency.

As they move into roles in service and volunteering, older adults like these are discovering that what they know is just as important as how much time they can give. Their help couldn’t have come at a better time. With demand for nonprofit services skyrocketing, fundraising and revenues are way down. Some experts predict as many as 100,000 nonprofit organizations could run out of money for their programs completely.

The recession has spurred more interest in volunteering among older adults, particularly among boomers, says Jill Friedman Fixler, a nonprofit consultant and co-author of “Boomer Volunteer Engagement.”

“This is a group with abundant skills and profound circles of influence and they believe they can have an impact in their community right now,” she says.

That was the idea for Chesnut. After leaving his job as a retail sales executive with Procter & Gamble, Chesnut, 64, spent several years as a counselor for small business owners. When he moved to Denver a few years ago, he decided to focus on helping nonprofits. As he explored his options, Chesnut was struck by Denver’s homeless problem. Millions of dollars were being spent pulling families out of shelters, but programs that were trying to keep families out of them to begin with were underfunded. After organizing a coalition of local nonprofits, Chesnut began a research project that eventually led to a successful $600,000 grant.

“Coming from the corporate world and working with large retailers, you learn to look for common interest,” he says. “What I did was put numbers to the problem.”

[Read more…]

Volunteers Are a Wealth of Fundraising Ideas

Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard

Do you have so much to do for your capital campaign, with so little time? Think about including your most zealous volunteers in your fundraising program, according to Michael J. David-Wilson, executive director for the Middlesex County College Foundation in Edison, N.J. Why not use your best supporters to cultivate other organization members?

David-Wilson presented his ideas in a session at the 46th annual Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) international fundraising conference in New Orleans. Here’s how to turn your volunteers into development participants:

  • Volunteer participation. Volunteers can be a great addition to your fundraising team. Just make sure if they are asking others for gifts, they make one of their own.
  • Major gift donations. Try to tackle big gifts early. Use your own board’s participation as examples of campaign giving.
  • Volunteer training. Ensure that your volunteer solicitors are properly trained before they ask for gifts. Team your professional fundraisers with volunteers for some role-playing in donation asks.
  • Give information. Compile important donor information for your fundraising team. Set up a gift amount to ask for and what that gift amount would do for the campaign.
  • Set up success. Everyone needs a boost of confidence. Arrange some telephone solicitations for your volunteers with donors most likely to give. That will put your volunteers on the right foot for in-person asks.
  • Provide backup. Volunteers don’t normally ask donors for gifts – so they may lose their confidence at the meeting. Couple volunteers with a professional development staff member who can move in if the volunteer gets too nervous.
  • Celebrate successes. Make volunteer solicitors excited about their hard work. Think about building some friendly competition among volunteers by tracking donor visits or the amount raised.

This Tip of the Week is reprinted with permission from The Nonprofit Times Weekly. Go to http://nptimes.com for more information.

Fundraising Planning – A Vital Key To Nonprofit Success

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As a professional grant writer and consultant, I am often amazed at how few nonprofit organizations actually have a fund development plan beyond a vague idea of applying for a few grants and sending out an annual appeal letter. Recognizing that lack of planning, I am not amazed at how often these same organizations have rounds of emergency budget cuts when they realize that they have no assured streams of income.

Very typical is the agency that has received a large grant to run their programs for one year. Then, in the tenth month of the grant period, comes the realization that they have no idea how they will fund the next year’s programs. With less than two months of money left in the bank they go into emergency fundraising mode.

Their first impulse is to start applying for another large grant. But at most foundations, the process – from letter of inquiry to proposal to acceptance – typically takes at least three months, and often six to eight months.

Their next idea is to turn to their individual donors with a panicked letter that essentially says, “Send us money now or we might go out of business.” That, of course, is the least effective fundraising letter you can write. Donors want to invest in your successes, not bail out your failures.

So, how do they avoid these situations? The answer is to plan. Through the planning process, you will achieve the following:

  • Limit crisis fundraising: This, as the example above illustrates, is our primary reason for creating a fund development plan, but there are others as well…
  • Diversity builds in flexibility: Changes in other sectors of the economy can have a major impact on nonprofit funding. A cut in the state budget can be passed down as fewer contracts for local service organizations. The dot-com bust of a few years back cut foundation endowments, reducing the funds they had available to grant. Agencies that had become comfortable relying on one or two sources of funding found themselves struggling to survive these changes. Those with plans and diversified funding bases had the flexibility to adapt and survive.
  • Planning for diversity brings in more opportunities: Through the planning process you come to identify funding opportunities you never knew existed. Further, when you stop having to scramble to pay next month’s bills, you will be able to devote more time to developing new sources of income for your agency.

[Read more…]

Eight Reasons All Non-Profits Need a Website

Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard

A nonprofit organization can take advantage of the Internet for at least eight purposes:

  • publicity
  • public education
  • fundraising
  • volunteer recruitment
  • service delivery
  • advocacy
  • research
  • communication

Let us look at brief examples of each of these uses in turn.

Publicity

Good sites gain attention. Attention or awareness is exactly what all non-profits need… it accelerates fund-raising efforts, and enhances all the following essential needs:

Public Education

There’s a fine line between grabbing the public’s attention and educating the public about an important social problem or cause.Whatever the mission statement of your non-profit organization is, it needs to be presented with clarity to the various “publics” that all non-profits must influence if they are to be successful. All organizations have several different “publics” which they must influence in a positive way in order to achieve their organizational goals. [Read more…]

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