5 Ways to Gain More Volunteers at Your Fundraiser

Posted by Walter Kearns on 9/10/18 6:30 AM

You’ve certainly been there before. You’re planning this amazing fundraiser that is sure to bring in all of the money your organization or school will need for the next quarter and then you start working out the logistics and things start falling apart. There’s altogether too much work to be done by too few full time employees. And so you’re stuck, right? There’s no way this event will have a chance to live up to what it needs to be. You’ll be lucky if you get halfway decent place-settings, let alone get that booth in the corner set up. And so, you give up, right? You scale back to find the thing that works and then find other ways to fill those income gaps. But what if there was another way? What if you could actually fill those needs with volunteers and launch your event in time? Well, you can! And below you’ll see 5 easy ways to start bringing in those much needed volunteers to your next fundraising event.

1. Ask!

Well this seems an obvious place to start. Of course, you have to ask. In fact, I imagine you have been asking. But so often many people do not have because they do not ask properly or specifically enough.

There is a famous story within our organization about a man who was asked to raise funds for Oklahoma University’s endowment fund. The University tasked him and one other student with raising $500,000 to help the school. They decided to try and find one big donor to give them $250,000 and leverage that amount to convince others to give them the rest. They found themselves on the top floor of a Dallas high-rise talking with none other than Ross Perot. As they stumbled through their sales pitch Mr. Perot did not say a word. As the silence dragged on Mr. Perot reached inside his desk and pulled out his checkbook. He wrote a check for $250,000 and handed it to them and said, “Let this be a lesson, if you had asked for $500,000 I would have given you $500,000. But since you did not I will make you go out and find the rest. Always ask for what you want.” Don’t be afraid to make bold asks of your potential volunteers. You may be surprised by the answer.


5 tips to getting more volunteers


2. Great Incentives!

We held an event in Fort Worth, TX for a company that had no staff, no website, no building, and only 3 board members. Those three board members went out and found their friends and asked them to participate in their fundraiser. They informed them that if they raised $2,500 they would get a free shotgun or hunting rifle. If they were to raise $8,500 a helicopter hog hunt would be given to them. They understood that men in Texas would do anything to have more guns and shoot more stuff!

Know your volunteers and know what they would like to have and create your incentive package accordingly.

3. Mobilize Your Current Volunteers

I recently had the opportunity to help with a fundraiser for a group of men in Tuscaloosa, AL. They held a sporting clay shoot and I was one of their shooter captains. The three men I recruited to be shooters on my team had no affiliation whatsoever to their organization. They helped fundraise because I asked them to, and because they wanted some cool incentives. Make sure that you are inviting your volunteers the opportunity to bring in their friends and family to fundraise as well. If they believe in your organization enough to volunteer for it, they probably believe in it enough to invite the people they care about to participate.

4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Fundraising is a marathon, not a sprint. Be sure to communicate well with the people involved at every level in your organization throughout the year. When you communicate well people know you care and they’ll believe you’re capable of completing the task. When you have trust you have a strong relationship on which to ask for help, and that will lead to a truly amazing event.


Group of volunteers putting food in donation box


5. Never Say Never

Be creative in thinking about who could be volunteers for you. Ask everyone in your organization to reach out to their networks. Dig through and spend time searching for creative groups of people that you can ask to come and help you fundraise at a higher level. Remember, every little bit will help and you never know where your next super volunteer will come from.


Using these 5 steps will get you moving in the right direction but it will be on you to follow through and follow up. If you’re willing to put in the work, there will be nothing stopping you from creating the biggest, most audacious fundraising event in your organization’s history.


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