How to Spot Effective Volunteers

Identifying fundraising volunteers and leaders amidst your corps of volunteers is no simple process. Not all will have the ability or desire to be effective fundraisers, so when you identify someone who is willing and able, seize the opportunity.

Of course, not everyone who volunteers to assist with fundraising will possess all of the ingredients of success equally. It is incumbent upon professional staff to encourage the positive characteristics that volunteers have and compensate for those which are less evident. The most desirable traits are:

Influence: Volunteers should be well known and respected within the community, and capable of attracting attention and, ultimately, support.

Affluence and generosity: When a campaign leader makes a major gift it can set the pace for success. An effective volunteer will certainly demonstrate her generosity in proportion to her means , and in relation to the campaign goal, or the amount suggested.

Advocacy and Action: The volunteers’ words and actions will speak loudly and inspire others, especially if they are authentic and reliable.

Wisdom: An experienced volunteer can transfer business and life experience to the fundraising process, helping a campaign avoid pitfalls and take advantage of opportunities.

Dedication: Noted fundraiser and author Harold J. (Si) Seymour observed that “Nothing is more dangerous than the second-class attention of a first-class individual.” Fundraising requires a personal commitment to advocate for gifts, recruit others, and participate in campaign activities. Those who merely lend their name to a cause without dedicating their effort may think they’re helping, but they will only inspire others to less.

Enthusiasm and eloquence: Many will rally to a cause when the leader is able to clearly articulate the case for support in a way that demonstrates personal enthusiasm and moves others to action.

Tenacity: A fundraising goal will most often be attained through healthy doses of rejection, because not everyone will give. A leader must be prepared to stick with the job long after the initial excitement has waned.

Wit: In the midst of difficult decisions or tense meetings, a leavening of laughter can keep everyone moving forward together.


click here for a pdf version:  FRM61

For more on The Role of Volunteers, Developing Effective Fundraising Leaders, access Goettler Series Volume 10