Engaging Fundraising Volunteers

How can we work better to attract, recruit and retain fundraising volunteers?

We were interested in learning more about the factors that encourage people to volunteer as fundraisers, as well as the ways that organisations can work better to attract, recruit and retain fundraising volunteers.

About the Research

Our main research questions were:

  1. Who volunteers for fundraising work?
  2. What attracts people to volunteering of this type?
  3. What deters people from volunteering for fundraising activities?
  4. What can organisations do to attract, recruit, select, train and retain fundraising volunteers?

Research Methodology

Anne Eustace, Eustace Patterson Ltd., carried out the research in two phases. The first phase involved secondary research through a brisk review of recent available literature relating to fundraising volunteering. This was mainly USA and UK research and the research in general is all at early stages with scope for much more applied research to inform volunteer management and development practice.

The second phase of the methodology involved primary research consultations through focus groups with a sample of managers working with volunteer involving organisations (10) and volunteers (5) who have experienced or are interested in volunteering in a fundraising capacity. This phase of the research served to check and validate the themes emerging from the literature review and granted a valuable Irish dimension to the work.

Key Messages & Recommendations

Be strategic about who fundraises for you and how you manage & mind volunteers.

Finding the Right Fit

  • Cause is important – what is compelling to those who volunteer and fundraise for you?
  • Commitment to mission matters to those who choose to volunteer for you.
  • There is a set of specific skills and steps to successful fund raising using volunteers. Qualities to look for in a professional fund raiser include; impeccable integrity, good listener, ability to motivate and concern for people.

Volunteer Management & Support

  • Good practice volunteer management is vital, in particular valuing all who contribute through their volunteering, even those who are episodic volunteers. Briefing volunteers, training and continuous improvement is necessary.
  • Gratitude and appreciation are necessary ingredients to attract and sustain volunteers – be creative and continuously improve the ways you express gratitude and appreciation for your volunteers.
  • Social interaction and carefully planned opportunities for volunteers to socialise naturally helps retention and encourages new volunteers to step in.
  • Reflection is vital for learning, integration of new awareness and continuous improvement of practice. Reflection is particularly vital for leaders so that they can lead their followers with integrity.

Organisation Activity

  • Communicating and continuously telling the story of your organisation in a trusted and clear way, will raise public awareness and help attract new volunteers to you.
  • Integration is key, e.g. of those who engage, integration of systems and sections is also worth considering, e.g. softening any separation that there is between fundraising and volunteering.
  • Supporting the journey of all forms of engagement (by clients, supporters, volunteers, etc.) with an organisation is a strategic imperative that will yield long term gains in terms of support and commitment to the cause.
  • Intentional monitoring of all data held within an organisation is a good thing to do, and to notice patterns in volunteering activity and inter play with other activities and engagement with the organisation, e.g. donating money.


Handout: Engaging Fundraising Volunteers – Main Messages from Research

Presentation Slides: Engaging Fundraising Volunteers – Presentation 17 May 2018

Further Information?

To discuss your needs and see how we can support you best, please contact your Organisation Support Officer Frances Hayden

frances@volunteerdublincity.ie or (01) 473 7482