Are Volunteers the Biggest Donors to Your Animal Shelter or Rescue?

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Volunteers donate 50% more than non-volunteers according to a study several years ago. Is this true for your animal rescue or shelter?

A few weeks ago I volunteered to work at an animal group’s event. We’ve donated to this group for several years. I won’t donate or volunteer anytime soon. I was very turned off by what I saw and questioned how our donations are being spent. At this event I saw:

Poor handling of ticket sales. Many folks claimed to be part of the organization but there was no list to verify this; undoubtedly many got in without paying.

Complete lack of organization. The employee who was “directing” the volunteers had clearly never been to this facility. She didn’t even know the traffic flow, where people entered the facility, etc.

A director who wouldn’t listen to ideas of others and refused to relinquish control to other employees to make even the smallest decision.

No thank you to the volunteers that evening. I did receive a written thank you note several weeks later.

The last time I volunteered for this group I got the same impression. They very foolishly were spending many hours manually removing duplicate labels from a mailing rather than spending about $200 for the software to handle this. The attitude was “this is something the volunteers can do.”

Evaluate your volunteers in terms of their donations. Do their donations increase? Are they higher than donors who don’t volunteer? Do they volunteer once and never again? Or do they continue to volunteer when needed and become partners of your shelter or rescue?

Do a survey of your volunteers. Ask questions such as:

How could we have improved the event you just participated in?
Would you volunteer with us again? Why or why not?
Would you recommend to your friends that they volunteer with us?
Why did you choose to volunteer with us?

Information you gather can be used to improve how volunteers view your organization and give you ideas on how to communicate with future volunteers. Volunteers have many choices of where to volunteer, if at all. Cultivating a relationship with volunteers who believe in your cause could reap financial benefits and volunteer help in the future.

Reference: Transformational Giving Blog: Volunteers donate 50% more than non-volunteers, but ten years after that discovery nonprofits don’t seem to care by EFoley. That statistic comes from research undertaken by Independent Sector in 2001.

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