Drakes Bay Fundraising
A Next Generation Fundraising Company

Archive for the ‘Volunteer’ Category

Doing Well by Those Doing Good

Posted by Christopher Dann
Tuesday April 5, 2011
Categories: Fundraising, Research, Volunteer

There’s a lot being said and written now about donor relationship and donor experience management.  There’s a strong case to be made for volunteer relationship and experience management, even for those organizations that have been very smart and resourceful about volunteer human resource management.

Consider these facts:

  • Ultimate – call it “lifetime” if you will – donor value comes from engagement between donors and the mission and program of an organization.

Volunteers are arguably more deeply engaged in the work of an organization than most donors, often more than a lot of staff people, especially when they are given program-substantive work to do.

  • Research continually shows volunteers are more active and more valuable donors.

We’ve seen this in the cross-tabulations of every donor research study we have done: strong correlations between volunteering and higher levels of household giving both in terms of numbers of organizations and amounts given in the past year.

  • Donors and volunteers look alike.

Both have higher incidence than the general population of college education. In both volunteering and giving, households with committed couples give and volunteer substantially more than those of single adults.

But the most important thing to consider in paying close attention to the volunteer experience is what it means for future financial support, not just current support. That’s because the peak age of volunteer engagement, according to the Urban Institute’s The Nonprofit Almanac, is between the ages of 35 and 54, the range just ahead of the peak years of discretionary income and giving, 55 to 64.

We’ve heard many development people say with sighs that their volunteers don’t support them well with contributions. That may be because they give time instead of money. But it may also be because they haven’t had the experience with the organization that would cultivate their financial support or simply because they aren’t ready.

There’s a far better prospect for value from donors who’ve begun their relationship as volunteers than among those who haven’t. But realizing that value requires investment and vision beyond the current fiscal year.


Next Generation Fundraising and Drakes Bay Fundraising merged in the fall of 2013, bringing the longstanding professional acquaintances of their four principals – Tim Oleary, Carol Leister, Cindy Germain, and Christopher Dann – into a single company and combining the special resources and experiences of each to provide clients greater breadth and depth of service.

For more information about Next Generation Fundraising, click here.