Any fundraising plan of attack must include recruiting volunteers. They are the heartbeat of a fundraising project. Their enthusiasm for the project is contagious to others inside and outside the operation. But it takes only a few negative or mismatched volunteers to wreck the atmosphere of success. In big projects, volunteers must deal with donors, and their ability to do that can be paramount to success or failure.
As the planner of a fundraising project, it's your job to recruit volunteers with a certain level of ability and key characteristics: good listening and people skills, including the ability to be sensitive to others' needs; the ability to meet deadlines; being a doer, not a talker; a positive attitude.
What follows is a list of questions to ask potential volunteers. You don't want to turn people away, but you do want to find out if each person is a good match for the project's needs, so ask these questions in the context of finding out what jobs each person would be best suited for. Use informal interviews or a questionnaire, depending on the scope of your project and time available.
- What is your experience?
- What talents and resources do you have that the project can use?
- What would you like to do for the project?
- Do you have any ideas or projects that could make us better?
- Do you have any children in the program?
Here are some areas for leaders of fundraising projects to consider once they know a little something about a particular volunteer or group of volunteers:
- Are they going to be able to succeed in the situations we put them in?
- How much will we have to train them for them to succeed and have a positive experience?
- Do potential volunteers have diverse abilities so that they can complement one another?
A final note: In sports-related fundraising, an obvious source of volunteers is the student-athletes themselves, but don't assume this is always the best direction. Using student-athletes or other young people as project personnel usually means choosing short fundraisers, because their free time is limited and their focus is typically short-term. For fundraisers that aim to net $5,000 or more, consider getting your volunteer corps away from student-athletes and more toward adults.