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February 2016 – Schuurman Communications
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February 2016

Are You Ready for National Volunteer Week?

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No, it’s not actually April- yet. But it soon will be! Be honest- when do you start planning for National Volunteer Week? It’s April 10-16 this year so my guess is around April 1.

Here’s a few easy ways to start planning now and make sure your volunteers know that YOU know your organization wouldn’t exist without their generous service.

  • Even if your budget for volunteer recognition is $0, an informal email from the President/ED with a few examples of how volunteers helped further your organization’s mission paired with a heartfelt thanks can help your volunteers feel appreciated.
  • Do you have a Volunteer of the Year award? Maybe you did at one point and the program lapsed. Bring it back or start one now. All it takes is a simple one page nomination form, a committee to pick the recipient (your Board can do this if they’re interested), an email announcing nominations are open, and a printed certificate to present to the winner during Volunteer Week.
  • Ask a local business to donate items for a thank you coffee break. Muffins and cookies in the kitchen with a sign thanking volunteers are always appreciated.
  • Encourage your staff to seek out volunteers and to take a minute to give a sincere “thank you.”
  • Conduct a volunteer survey and ask volunteers directly how they’d like to be thanked, whether they have the support/training they need, whether they feel valued, etc. Surveys are easy (and sometimes free depending on the number surveyed) with Survey Monkey.
  • Take a few hours and map out a formal Volunteer Recognition Plan.
  • Check out Volunteer Canada’s Volunteer Recognition site for more ideas.

Why Hire an Independent Prospect Researcher?

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In 2015, non-profits tend to come in two varieties: large organizations and small shops. Large organizations are usually lucky to have a prospect researcher on staff but in small shops, an Executive Director, Development Officer, or support staffer is often tasked with doing the work of researching prospects. This person is usually so overloaded that there’s no time to apply systematic processes to identifying and researching potential donors.

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • Your list of “top prospects” is based solely on who’s given recently
  • Your meetings are scheduled haphazardly based on who you’ve run in to/can get in touch with
  • “As much as possible” is your annual fundraising target
  • You think some of your donors might have a family foundation, but aren’t sure
  • You’re nervous talking about planned gifts with your older donors
  • You don’t think about asking younger donors for planned gifts at all
  • You haven’t asked your annual donors to upgrade
  • You use Raiser’s Edge (or a similar donor database) to record gifts only and don’t know how to use additional features
  • You don’t know what the next action on any of your prospects should be
  • Stewardship consists of a handwritten “Thank You!” on the donor’s tax receipt
  • You’re gearing up for a capital campaign and *hope* your major donors step up

No matter the size of your organization, I’ve never met a non-profit professional who didn’t say their organization wasn’t feeling pressure to increase performance with fewer resources. Especially in today’s funding environment where donors prefer to allocate funds to projects only, finding resources for vital development work is more difficult, and yet more necessary, than ever.

Schuurman Communications will work with your organization to develop a customized plan to utilize your resources at peak efficiency and effectiveness. This may be as simple as identifying your top 25 future prospects or as involved as developing, implementing, and training staff on specialized processes for the Raiser’s Edge Prospect tab. Maybe your fundraising staff will feel more confident making calls if they have individual profiles on top donors. Or perhaps automating stewardship processes will free up support staff time and enhance donor relations.

Contact Betsy at betsy@schuurmancomms.com today for a free consultation to see how your organization can benefit from prospect research services.