By Renee Zau, Co-founder, DonationMatch The inevitable happened. I suspected it was a possibility, but it still took me by surprise. "I just don't think I have it in me." Just like that, my son's elementary school's annual fundraiser was cancelled.
This isn't the first time I've seen a leading volunteer burn out, nor will it be the last. Imagine how much work it is to organize the equivalent of a wedding every year, then DOUBLE it. That's how many hours the average charitable fundraising event takes to plan (about 600 hours!) This will drain even the most experienced volunteers year after year, and we found some advice on alleviating pain:
Get Help. "Auctions are best enjoyed – and planned – with others.... Believe it or not, a good number of your best volunteers may not even have personal ties to the nonprofit, but instead have ties to the auction chair!" - Sherry Truhlar, Red Apple Auctions, from "Five Steps to a Great Fundraising Auction"
Stop the (PTO) Drama. Tim Sullivan of PTO Today addressed this in a blog post where he acknowledged the difficulties of authority or leadership in volunteer situations. He tackled this head-on with several suggestions.
Show Appreciation. While your committees are already securing prizes for auctions and raffles, why not add an ask for volunteer gifts, too? I love that the San Diego Zoo does a raffle at each of their Food & Wine Celebration planning meetings. Another idea? The same companies providing goodies for event swag bags will also often be happy to include extras for volunteers. After all, they are potential customers, too, and a little goodwill goes a long way.
Value Their Time. This has more to do with the tools you provide. It could be an app, software, or updated equipment that can save MANY hours of work or headaches. New products to help with event fundraising are being introduced constantly, including Planana for event sharing and DonationMatch for in-kind donation procurement. The best ones will reduce repetitive tasks, increase sales, and/or stay organized (i.e. prevent busy people from being overwhelmed.)
What helps you stay motivated? What have you done to successfully retain volunteers? We'd love to know in the comments below!