Typically, this time of year I see fundraising appeals from educational organizations, faith-based groups preparing for summer mission trips, and health-related (education/advocacy/research) groups that sponsor an athletic event (e.g. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team In Training). Over the past four months I’ve received about eight fundraising appeals representing five different organizations. Of these, five have been through social media or in electronic format and stand out in my mind, but not as best practice examples.
Social media and the viral fundraising campaign is highly lauded among large national organizations with high name recognition and stellar reputations. However, a major shortcoming of peer-based appeals is that the responsibility for relationship building is transferred from professional fundraisers to an inexperienced volunteer. A trend I’m seeing among the disappointing appeals is a lack of volunteer fundraising training by these well-respected organizations (or perhaps volunteers are ignoring their training).
The downside of this is that even if a person I know sends me an e-mail or Facebook message asking for my support for their upcoming mission trip or walk-a-thon, I’m unlikely to be receptive to the request if it’s the first time I’ve heard from that person in five years.
As Millennials seek to make a difference, it should be the responsibility of non-profits to engage their volunteers in training to make clear the importance of genuine cultivation and stewardship as a preface to effective asking and engagement. Volunteer training should not focus just on building endurance for the upcoming marathon, but should also spend some time educating on the strengths and weaknesses of permission marketing and their responsibilities as volunteer fundraisers.