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Share an Online Portal
With Your Most Active Volunteers
If you have lots of volunteers actively raising funds for your
nonprofit, an online portal can help you quickly fine-tune
and update your strategies and tactics and better manage
people. But if you do decide to switch from paper to online
volunteer management, make sure to opt for a portal that
provides maximum flexibility to adapt to your
organization’s needs, suggest Traci Wolfe, director of the
annual fund, and Nicole M. Sibley, annual fund data
analyst, Amherst College (Amherst, MA).
As an early adopter, Amherst had its advancement IT
department build its volunteer portal in-house in the days
when few out-of-the-box solutions existed. Called
Classlink, the portal serves the college’s more than 1,100
volunteers. Accessing it with a username and password, all
volunteers receive updates on the annual fund and special
events, use contact information and giving history of the
classmates they are assigned and track the progress of their
class. They also get real-time reporting of donations, so
they can send thank-you letters promptly.
At the same time, Classlink gives volunteer class agents
and the annual fund staff real-time information on how
volunteers are doing as well as access to all the other
information. The portal has freed up staff time to devote to
strategizing, Sibley says, because volunteers can get answers
to basic questions online rather than having to call or
e-mail staff members for help.
“When we think strategically about the annual fund
and how volunteers fit in for soliciting, we can be really
strategic with Classlink,” she says.
As a “home-grown tool,” Classlink gives the staff
flexibility to customize it to their needs. For instance, it has
a special module to help several volunteers solicit larger
“It’s real bang for the buck, even though it’s special for
three people, which you couldn’t do with an off-the-shelf
product,” Sibley says. “It made sense because of the high
impact in terms of dollars with these donors.”
Creating the portal in-house “certainly was an
investment in staff time and resources,” Wolfe concedes.
But it has “absolutely” paid off, she adds. “If you’re going
to ask very busy people to spend time volunteering for their
alma mater, you want to make sure that you’re making it as
easy as possible for them.”
If you lack the resources to build your own volunteer
portal, more commercial off-the-shelf products are
available now than when Amherst created Classlink, Wolfe
and Sibley say. But make sure the company you partner
with is able to make adjustments “if you need tweaks,”
Sources: Nicole M. Sibley, Annual Fund Data Analyst, Amherst
College, Amherst, MA. Phone (413) 542-5900. E-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.amherst.edu/give/volunteer
Traci Wolfe, Director of the Annual Fund, Amherst College,
Amherst, MA. Phone (413) 542-8357. E-mail: email@example.com.
Useful Monthly Giving Program Strategies
Investing in monthly giving initiatives, BC Children’s Hospital
Foundation (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) has
grown its list of monthly donors from about 4,000 10 years
ago to more than 16,000. Although some of those acquisitions
came with the help of hired consultants, others resulted
from simple, inexpensive changes, says Jas Jhooty, officer,
philanthropy, BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Monthly giving can cut costs and increase revenues. It
accounts for more than half of the foundation’s direct
response program revenue and continues to grow, Jhooty says.
“Once you’ve acquired somebody and have the right
stewardship in place, a typical donor will keep giving to you
for anywhere from five to six to seven years,” she says. “If
you have a donor you acquired at $20 a month, and they give
to you for six years, that’s much more than you would get
from someone who gives one or two gifts a year.”
The foundation worked with consultants to increase
monthly giving via direct mail, telemarketing and door-to-
door solicitation, a popular and effective fundraising tool in
Canada. Even if you lack the money to hire consultants,
there are easy and inexpensive ways to boost your revenues
via monthly fundraising, she adds.
“One of the biggest changes I have made is to make sure
that all our online donation pages have a monthly giving
ask,” she says. A six-month test comparing one-time and
monthly giving as defaults showed that revenues more than
doubled by simply changing the default ask to monthly
giving. All Web pages and e-mails should have monthly
giving asks, she advises, as should mailed solicitations.
If you can afford to do more, direct-mail monthly giving
campaigns produce the most loyal donors, followed by
telephone campaigns and door-to-door solicitations. Direct-
response television can be as effective as telemarketing, but
viewership trends are changing, and TV is too expensive for
all but the largest organizations, Jhooty says.
You can boost the success of your own direct mail,
phone or door-to-door campaign by reviewing your database
for donors with several years of consistent giving. Target
these loyal contributors as the best prospects. Stress the
efficiency and convenience of monthly giving for your own
organization as well as for donors. They can pay with one
simple credit card transaction, and your organization can
limit further solicitation.
Source: Jas Jhooty, Officer, Philanthropy, BC Children’s Hospital
Foundation, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Phone (604) 875-2345, ext. 5876. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publish an Annual Honor Roll
Publish and distribute an annual list of contributors as
another way to collectively recognize and thank your