Turning Volunteers into Donors

Posted Thursday, October 4th, 2018 by Sterling Volunteers Staff

Turning a Volunteer into Donors

Fundraising from a variety of sources is a daily task for nonprofit organizations. Did you know that over 90% of people who volunteer for a charitable organization also donate money to causes they care about? And where else would people rather give than to the organizations with which they feel the most connected? In our latest webinar, “Turning Volunteers into Donors”, Terry Axelrod, founder and CEO of Benevon, shared how once you shift your thinking to seeing volunteers not just as givers of time, but as potential donors, while seeing every volunteer experience as a potential cultivation contact, your volunteer program will take on a whole new purpose—donor engagement.

Terry highlighted the Benevon Model, a successful nonprofit fundraising system she has developed over 20 years and is currently implemented by over 5,000 nonprofit teams. The Benevon Model is a mission-centered, four-step, circular process for raising sustainable funding and major gifts from individual donors. The basis of the model is having organizations deeply engage their volunteers in their mission, show the volunteers the impact of their work and ultimately convert the volunteers into donors.  The Benevon Model works for all types of nonprofit organizations at all levels from local to international in every type of field.

Culture of Philanthropy

Sustainable funding is within the reach of every nonprofit organization committed to doing the challenging work needed to attain it, by following a customized, step-by-step, systematic process over time. According to the 2013 CompassPoint study, “Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising”, a culture of philanthropy has the following characteristics:

  • Most people in the organizations act as ambassadors and engage in relationship building
  • Everyone promotes philanthropy and can articulate a case for giving
  • Fund development is viewed and valued as a mission-aligned program of the organization
  • Organizational systems are established to support donors
  • The top leader (ED, President) is committed and personally involved in fundraising

Four Steps of the Benevon Model

The Benevon Model is a continual process that builds upon the culture of philanthropy as it goes through four major steps:

  • Step 1-Point of Entry: Develop private point of entry introductory events hosted by the organization’s volunteer ambassadors. The one-hour event educates and inspires guests with facts, stories, a tour and an inspiring talk by the visionary leader of the organization. A key point of this first step is not to ask for money, but to capture the attendee names.
  • Step 2-Follow-up Call: After the introductory event, guests would receive a personal phone call to get their feedback and to see if they would like to be more involved in the organization by becoming an ambassador and hosting their own point of entry event. It is important to listen and learn during this stage of the process. If attendees are not interested in learning more about the organization, they can be thanked and told they will no longer be contacted.
  • Step 3-Ask for Money: When attendees have become more deeply connected to the organization, then it can be time to ask for money. Terry recommends a One-Hour Ask Event focusing on fundraising. The event is free and there is no obligation to give to the organization. At the end of the event, the guests are invited to become members of a Multiple-Year Giving Society by donating a specific amount, such as $1,000, over a set period of time.
  • Step 4-Introduce Others: At this last step, donors are reconnected to the mission of the organization and are encouraged to introduce others to your organization becoming Ambassadors and hosting their own point of entry events in the next year.

The model provides an amazing return on investment. According to Terry, a minimum of 40% of the One-Hour Ask Event guests have attended a Point of Entry Event in the Prior 12 months, while a minimum of 10% of Ask Event guests join the Multiple-Year Giving Society at one of the three giving levels.

Learn more about the Benevon Model and how to turn your ambassadors into donors by listening to an OnDemand version of the “Turning Volunteers into Donors” webinar.

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