The Vital Volunteer / Staff Partnership … Critical to Success

Successful fundraising is both an art and a science. It is not just techniques or methodologies. It’s about people. Volunteer leadership, skill, and commitment are the elements that bring life and vitality that contribute to success. Volunteer involvement is an absolute given in developing donors’ commitment, based on a peer-to-peer approach.

People give to people and to causes. People want to help others and feel they’ve made a difference.

Whose responsibility is it to make it work…

In any aspect of a fundraising program or campaign, it is essential to ensure that “the right person is doing the right job. The ability of those involved to work together is critical to the end results.

Staff plays a critical role in establishing the framework for the partnership and how it will actually work. It is a responsibility of the staff to develop the expertise to support effective volunteer recruitment and management practices.


Often, when volunteer involvement results in less than optimal results, we question why.  Have our mutual expectations been clear? Have we asked ourselves the following questions?

Common Problem Key Questions
Can’t recruit people Are we asking the right people?
Is the job too big? Is the time commitment clear?
Are we asking in the right way?
Is the right person doing the asking?
Were they asked face to face, and told the benefits of involvement or just the organization’s needs?
What informational material was left with them?
Did we ask enough people, or give up after a few no’s?
Lack of Commitment Are the responsibilities articulated in writing and were they clearly communicated?
Is the information they received appropriate, clear, concise?
Do they know how they fit into the overall picture?
Do we assume a memo or phone call means “we told them”?
Won’t do the work Do they actually know how or what is expected?
Are they right for the job?
Have we asked them to do too many different things?
Were they involved in developing strategy and planning?
Would you be better off without them?  If so, who would let them go?
Has it been discussed directly and roles negotiated or re-negotiated?
Is staff / volunteer competent?

Joan Blight

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