Need volunteers? Check your database!

volunteer-652383_640Volunteers are the ones who keep operations at your organization running smoothly, and you greatly appreciate all they do for your mission. However, finding a group of dedicated volunteers is often a huge and difficult undertaking. Whether you’re sending out mailings, putting a plea on your nonprofit’s Facebook page or creating mass emails, reaching out to the right people can seem nearly impossible.

Potential volunteers are sometimes right under your nose – All you have to do is check your database. We talked to industry expert and ResultsPlus product manager Marcia Grimm about how to utilize your CRM to find volunteer advocates. When you look in your donor database, whether it’s ResultsPlus or another software, she suggests keeping an eye out for specific characteristics of constituents in your database. These include:

  • Personal involvement in the mission. The best people to ask to participate in volunteer activities are those who already know what you stand for and who have already engaged with your organization. You can often find these people in your database by looking at constituency codes, or codes that reflect how a person is connected to your organization, whether it be through as a donor, former volunteer, beneficiary, board member, etc.
  • Professional expertise. If you log information in your database about constituents’ jobs or interest, this can give you an inside view at what they are good at and whether those skills would be valuable to your mission. When talking with constituents, make sure to ask about their jobs and education so you can personalize your correspondence with them and log that information in your database for reference.
  • Physical location. If your mission is based in inner-city Chicago, you probably don’t need volunteers from Seattle, although that would show some pretty major dedication! A constituent’s address is among the most basic information that a donor database can store, so take advantage of it.
  • Personal history as a volunteer. People often stop volunteering when life gets crazy with children, school, work and illness. But, once life calms down again, these former volunteers may be willing to come back and help you out again. These are great people to reach out to because they already demonstrated a commitment to your cause.
  • Personal investment in the mission. A person’s donation history can tell you a lot about their interest in your organization. Your recurring donors obviously have a passion for your cause, so they may be interested in giving in a more tangible way. Volunteering is a great chance for donors to see exactly where their contributions are going.
  • Connections to people who are strong advocates. The most convincing people in your life are often friends and family. Reach out to people who are connected to your current volunteers. If they know that their friend or relative is volunteering, they may be more inclined to donate their time, as well. A donor database makes it easy to keep track of constituent relationships by linking constituents together who are connected in certain ways.

Your volunteers are vital to the operations of your organization and, more importantly, to keeping your mission’s message alive. Your next group of dedicated volunteers could be right under your nose, so keep your eyes, ears and database open.

Stay tuned for next week's Q&A with Marcia about the benefits of a CRM and how your donor database can help you find your next volunteers.