How to Engage Event Volunteers for Fundraising Success

How to Engage Event Volunteers for Fundraising Success

Webinar Recap: How to Engage Event Volunteers for Fundraising Success

Samantha Swaim from Swaim Strategies joined us for a webinar on how to recruit, manage, and engage event volunteers.

Samantha Swaim of Swaim Strategies, has been in the fundraising industry for two decades, and we were lucky enough to have her for an insightful webinar on How Best to Engage Your Volunteers, from board members to night-of-event helpers.

More than 80% of all volunteers in the nonprofit world donate to the causes they care about. Every one of your volunteers should also be seen as a donor and treated as a donor: given a seat at the event, a bid paddle, and invited to attend and participate even after their work for the night is done. The more involved people are with the organization, the more they give.

Board Members as Event Hosts

Board members often aren’t sure how to engage and support fundraising events. But board members, says Samantha, are there to be the relationship: they are the connection between your organization and their network of contacts.

Ideally, a board member will host a table so they can share their passion with other supporters and introduce people to your work. They should play host and steward, helping to bring people to the event, and to foster connection and deepen relationships.

You can help your board by giving them clear job descriptions. Here are some tasks you can give your board members leading up to your fundraising event:

  • Host a table
  • Bring in their employer as a donor or sponsor
  • Recruit attendees for the event
  • Secure pre-committed donations
  • Solicit a sponsor from their network
  • Introduce people at your event and foster connection with the cause

Host Committee

A host committee can help you expand your network, especially if you’re a new organization. This is a great position for key stakeholders, board members, big donors, and your superfans.

These are people whose name or influence in the community you could leverage on your marketing materials. Members of the host committee should host or sponsor a table, if possible.

Be sure to solicit your host committee members early on in the process! Provide them with the resources they need for marketing, promotion, and invitations. (No meetings are needed for a host committee.)

Logistics Committee

These are folks who are dedicated to helping you with planning the event. The key with a good logistics committee, says Samantha, is to stay away from ideation, and stay focused on execution.

Planning Committee

Planning committees are made up of dedicated volunteers who want to help with the event and offer valuable skills necessary to the planning process. They function to support the development team, not to give them orders.

Before recruiting a planning committee, build the frame of your event first. Ahead of recruiting, figure out the theme and decor, which should be centered around your mission or your current work, so that you know what the planning committee will need to do.

  • Assign one person to decor and give them a budget.
  • Find out what supplies you can get donated and task someone with soliciting them: wine, food, office supplies, or signage.
  • Try to get someone on your committee with graphic design experience to give your event materials a professional look with a united theme.
  • If you can, recruiting a volunteer for entertainment who’s already hooked into the entertainment world is ideal.

Your planning committee doesn’t need to meet frequently! After your initial work session, hold a second meeting during the planning stages where everyone comes together to demonstrate what they’ve been working on and provide updates, so that you can adjust if necessary. Then, have one last meeting a month before the event for final touches.

Solicitation Committee

Recruit volunteers for your auction item solicitation or procurement committee who are willing to go out and talk to people in the community and solicit donations. Provide a clear job description so volunteers know exactly what they’re signing up to do.

Then, task your committee with finding items your donors will enjoy—not simply anything that a business has to donate. Look for quality items that will sell. Provide lists and ideas to volunteers of what types of items they should go after, such as mission-specific items, or trips and travel.

Samantha suggests giving committee members access to your database to enter their auction items directly.

Engage Volunteers Day of Event

All organizations need extra hands to support the effort on the big night of the event, so make sure to recruit enough volunteers for the big night. As with your other volunteer positions, be sure to have all the necessary roles outlined, and then volunteers can sign up for specific jobs that will suit them.

  • Look for customer service-forward people to help who can easily interact with guests, and provide a memorable and positive experience.
  • Provide all volunteers with a very clear timeline, so everyone knows exactly what they’re supposed to be doing and when.
  • Samantha suggests having a single arrival time for all volunteers, regardless of position, so you can walk them through the training as a group—then divide up into smaller groups for more role-specific training.
  • Assign someone to be a lead manager, who can release other volunteers when their work is done.

Be sure to provide volunteers with a seat and a bid paddle. Remember, 80% of volunteers also become donors! You want them to integrate into the event, enjoy their experience, and feel excited about coming back next year.

We’d like to thank Samantha Swaim from Swaim Strategies for joining us and offering such valuable insights!

Webinar Engaging VOlunteers

Share your thoughts