The most successful and satisfied fundraisers know what it means to care about and commit to something bigger than themselves, something that will outlive them. Yes, they draw a paycheck for their efforts, but at some point fundraisers chose this profession over countless others. For many, it is more of a calling than a career.

Choices reveal values and interests. And if that is true of fundraisers who get paid, how much more do the choices of volunteers say about them – people who show up and serve for no personal benefit?

It’s important to reflect on what you already know about your nonprofit’s volunteers – and consider what you may not know but should:

They chose you.

Out of all the nonprofits they could be serving, your volunteers decided the mission you support professionally is one they care about personally. Don’t take this for granted. Do you know why they chose your organization over others? Are you familiar with how long various volunteers have been serving at your nonprofit? Make it your aim to ask, listen and learn.

They are generous.

Volunteers could be doing a litany of other things with their time – pursuing personal goals and interests – but they decided to invest a portion of their time into the efforts of your organization. Even if they are retired, their time is finite, yet, they have made your nonprofit’s mission their priority. Since we know “involvement leads to investment,” what a loss it would be not to vet your volunteers for to-be-cultivated gifts of meaning.

They are not done giving.

By engaging in and committing to a cause beyond themselves, volunteers are shining a spotlight on what they value. Either regularly or periodically, they choose to look beyond their daily routines in order to make a difference in the world. Do you understand their personal motivations? Would you like to know more?

Volunteers are not of “less value” because they don’t get paid. In many ways, this makes them the most valuable resource available for fundraising. Make sure to invest time in those who value what you do, and don’t wait to find out why they do it.


Matthew J. Beem, PhD, CRFE
Chairman and CEO

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