VolunteerMatters | Volunteerism Investing 101
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Volunteerism Investing 101

22 Dec Volunteerism Investing 101

Welcome to Volunteerism Investing Basics! If you’ve found your way here, chances are you’ve either already recognize the value of volunteerism or you’re instincts are telling you it’s important for your organization’s future. But first things first. Why is investing a smart idea?
First, let’s explore why we invest in the stock market. Simply put, you want to invest in order to create wealth. It’s relatively painless, and the rewards are plentiful. By investing in the stock market, you’ll have a lot more money for things like retirement, education, recreation — or you could pass on your riches to the next generation so that you become your family’s Most Cherished Ancestor.

Now let’s explore an investment in Volunteerism. Simply put, you want to invest in volunteerism in order to create an abundance for your organization – an abundance of supporters, donations, sponsorships, grants, human resources, customers/members. It’s relatively painless, and the rewards are plentiful. By investing in volunteerism, you’ll have a lot more people to expand your capacity to serve. You’ll have a larger pool for individual donations. You’ll have a larger network of people to explore partnerships with corporations, charities, and giving institutions. You’ll have an awesome new network of potential customers/members. You will have a PR machine designed to generate awareness and attention to your cause. This means that you will have an abundance of resources allowing you to pass on a legacy for future generations.

Know your goals
What is your investment in volunteerism designed to achieve? Attracting new volunteers? Increasing membership? Expanding services? Serving more people? Improving quality?

The power of compounding
Compounding is the ability of an asset to generate earnings, which are then reinvested in order to generate their own earnings. In other words, compounding refers to generating earnings from previous earnings. Compounding works the same way with volunteerism. When you invest in bringing on a volunteer, that volunteer grows with you and you reap the benefits of reinvesting their contributions. Let’s use the example of Marie.
Marie was first introduced to the organization as a one-time event volunteer for a 3-hr shift. In that first experience, the organization valued her time, made sure she understood the impact of her contributions, and communicated how that contribution was helping them to serve the mission – which is vitally important to our world. Marie was included in their annual campaign and donated $135. The next year Marie volunteered again, but served on the event committee which required 40 hours of service. She also recruited 10 friends and co-workers to work shifts at the event. Having been more intimately involved, Marie increased her donation to the annual campaign to $500 and her 10 friends raised $1,350. In the third year, Marie resumed her committee position, increased her donation to $750 and seven of the ten friends increased their donations to $500. Additionally, one of those ten introduced the organization to their employer, which sponsored the event to the tune of $10,000.

Marie’s impact:

  • Year 1 – $207.42 ($72.42 in volunteer service, $135 in donations)
  • Year 2 – $3,790 ($1,690 in volunteer hours and $2,100 in donations between her and her friends)
  • Year 3 – $15,590 ($1,690 in volunteer hours, $3,900 in donations, and $10,000 in sponsorships between her and her friends)

The power of compounding is the single most important reason for you to start investing in volunteerism right now.

Common pitfalls to avoid
Before you race off through the rest of Investing Basics, there are some cautionary points to consider before you proceed. These are common mistakes many people make when considering what to do about investing in volunteerism.

  • Doing nothing. There is no guarantee that an immediate investment in volunteerism will make a measurable impact the first day, month, or even year that you invest in it. But there is one guarantee: Doing nothing will encourage those supporters to look elsewhere.
  • Starting late. Postponing your investment in volunteerism is second only to not investing at all on the list of investment sins. You already know that the earlier you start the better off you are. (Take another look at the compound return example we gave above.)
  • Investing for the short term. Do not invest in processes or systems that you know are not growing your volunteer program. If you have a volunteer program today, you are already making an investment – but is it a wise one? Do not continue to put money toward an approach that is making your program anything less than extraordinary. Make the more bold play, expecting the bigger return three to five years from now – rather than muddling through today’s basic needs.
  • Turning down free money. You’d never turn down a dollar if it was offered with no strings attached. There are free resources designed to help you build your volunteer program – blog articles, online videos, free webinars, and more. Take full advantage.
  • Riding a Plateau. There is no such thing as a plateau. As the famed football coach Lou Holtz once said, “In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying so get in motion and grow.” If your volunteer program is not demonstrating significant growth this is a sign that there is more to do, more to accomplish, and more opportunities to be a greater force for good in the world.