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April is National Volunteer Month, and many nonprofit groups are taking advantage of the spring weather to encourage their community members to get out and get active in the volunteer opportunities they offer. How can you inspire your own donors to volunteer not only their funds, but also their time?

1. Stress the Positive

For many, the thought of volunteering seems overwhelming and a bothersome chore, but it’s important to stress the positive aspects of the experience, while tapping into motives that would potentially inspire a donor to join your volunteer team. Although you may simple assume that most volunteers do so because they have good hearts and a kind spirit, there’s usually something else they want to get out of the experience—connections, socialization, something to add to their resume, or just that good feeling that comes out of knowing you made a difference.   
In return for your volunteers’ efforts, give them the things they’re looking for. Make your volunteer opportunities a way for them to learn more about your organization and what you do, and make them feel important and needed—rather than sticking them in a corner with a repetitive task.


2. Make it Convenient

Make it easy for your volunteers to say “yes.” Be flexible with the times they can volunteer and make opportunities available that do not require a large time commitment. Make it easy to sign up, easy to pick a day and time and easy to start the entire volunteer process in general.


3. Recognize Your Volunteers

Just like your donors value recognition for their contributions, in the forms of honor rolls and seeing their names listed in newsletters and online, your volunteers value recognition as well. Genuinely show your thanks for their participation and time given, and build relationships with them.

What happens when you build these relationships?

When you’ve successfully offered your donors rewarding and convenient volunteer options, you’ll typically also see success in your funds. According to a study by Independent Sector, households that volunteer also give twice as much on average as donor households that do not volunteer. Volunteering gives donors a more tangible connection with your organization, so they become personally invested and involved.

Need help getting your donors engaged and showing up for your events and volunteer opportunities? Ask your Affinity Connection managing editor how you can create a strategy that works, or call (814) 237-0481.

Last month, The Boston Globe published an article about the biggest threat to men’s health. The headline read: “The biggest threat facing middle-age men isn’t smoking or obesity. It’s loneliness.”

As award-winning journalist Mary Schmich said, “Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.”

Your fraternity alumni chapter offers this opportunity to reconnect and revitalize lifelong friendships… to have fun with a purpose. Sigma Chi fraternity at Penn State has perfected this opportunity to combine fun and meaning at its annual golf tournament.

What’s your fraternity doing to benefit its members? When is the last time you asked your alumni what they want?

We’ll survey your alumni at no charge to help you find out. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to schedule your free Fun with a Purpose survey, or call your Affinity Connection managing editor at (814) 237-0481.

The numbers don’t lie, donor retention is the key to keeping your nonprofit profitable. So, how can you make sure that you’re giving your previous donors the love needed to keep them coming back and making annual gifts?

1. Keeping Your Donors in the Know

One very important step to keeping your donors coming back for more, is to keep them informed. Keep your cause at the top of their minds, through regular, consistent communication. Show them how their dollars are being used, whether it’s through a monthly eletter, or a quarterly newsletter or magazine.

2. Donor Recognition

If you caught last month’s eletter, you already know how important donor recognition can be. Donors want to be appreciated, and it often doesn’t take that much to show your thanks. Honor rolls on your website and in your print communications are great ways to use your donor data effectively, to show you know and recognize each and every person who gave. Then, don’t underestimate the power of donor acknowledgements. This infographic will show you just how many donors are more likely to give if they just receive a simple “thank you.”

3. Don’t Give Up on Lapsed Donors

So, you didn’t manage to successfully retain your donors in the past? Don’t just assume that a lapsed donor is gone for good! You can win back those dollars and successfully retain those reclaimed annual gifts, just by sending out a lapsed donor appeal. Use your data effectively, to discover which of your donors have fallen away, and show them exactly how they personally can help your cause with a new donation. These types of donor communications are affordable and can even be done at no risk to your bottom line.

Before your giving year ends, why not give it a shot? If there’s nothing to lose, you may just discover that a lapsed donor appeal can boost your donor base that much more, equipping you with a revitalized base that you can retain throughout the rest of the year with new communication strategies.

To get started, get in touch with your Affinity Connection managing editor, or, call (814) 237-0481.

When West Texas A&M Athletics sought to grow its annual giving, they turned to storytelling. WT Athletics had made great strides toward its mission to win championships and graduate student-athletes, but hadn’t shared the good news.

With a host of high-performing student-athletes who exceled on and off the field, an impressive alumni base, and lots of local sports fans, there were plenty of ways to boost donor interest in the athletics community, by telling the stories of those who have been firsthand changed by their time as a student-athlete at WT, and also the stories of those student-athletes who are now changing the lives of others.

When looking in the right spots, the potential donors were primed for giving as well. There was potential to reach more than 10,000 alumni households; more than 1,000 households who had given previously through either season ticket purchases or scholarship gifts; and hundreds of households who had given to the athletics scholarship fund in the last several years.

So, what was missing?

They had the stories and they had the data. The only thing left was the outreach—how could they make the biggest impact?

WT invested in a communications program that delivered a printed newsletter to donors and prospects every month. Inside are stories of alumni who have gone on to enjoy success thanks to their time at the university, as well as stories of the ways in which current students are benefiting from donor support to WT Athletics.

The results?

Record giving to its annual fund.

“Signing with Affinity Connection took our fundraising efforts to the next level,” said Michael McBroom, director of athletics at WT. They know what needs to be done and worked with the data to get it into a usable format…They quickly understood our culture, our needs and our goals.”

What about your nonprofit or alumni group?

Do you have amazing stories? Are you changing or saving lives? Do you know there are potential donors out there that you can reach? Do you feel like, if only you could tell your stories the right way, you’d be able to increase your donations?

This missing piece of the puzzle – getting great stories into the hands of donors to inspire them to give – is the most important part of your nonprofit’s success. If you’re having trouble finding it, get in touch with your Affinity Connection managing editor, or give us a call at (814) 237-0481.

Put yourself in your donor’s shoes. If you were a major donor, giving large gifts annually, would you want to receive the same appeal letter that’s sent to the “Dear Friend” being asked for a small recurring gift of $25? Likewise, if you were an occasional donor who only made online gifts, would you want to receive a lengthy, snail-mail letter only recognizing those who made gifts you could never afford?

All of your donors are different, and each likes to be recognized as an individual with unique interests, backgrounds and giving capabilities. Segmenting your donors can help you communicate with them effectively, based on the kind of information they want to receive.

Learn more about segmentation and best practices for alumni groups by reaching out to your Affinity Connection managing editor, or by calling (814) 237-0481.

To understand the value of your fraternity, you have to understand the value of your alumni. They truly are your most valuable asset — not the house, what most now think it is. Despite years of bad press, some deserved and some exaggerated, most fraternities were established on noble principles that produced (and still produce) great leaders and men of principle and true gentlemen. But your fraternity could be shut down by your host school or National or the local town. Therefore, (1) we must admit we have a problem and (2) we must be willing to change!

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Many donors will say they give without expecting anything in return, but, the truth is, many will continue to give if they see some recognition of their donation. We’re not talking flashy gifts for large donors or cheap trinkets for the smaller ones. Often, all that’s needed is a donor’s name in print. Honor rolls, lifetime donor lists or giving level groups published online or in a newsletter can inspire donors to give more and give often. In addition, donors appreciate a simple, heartfelt thank you and personal acknowledgement, with open communications from the nonprofit showing just how their gifts are making a difference and changing lives.

Learn more about donor recognition and best practices for nonprofit groups by reaching out to your Affinity Connection managing editor, or by calling (814) 237-0481.

April is National Volunteer Month, and many alumni groups are taking advantage of the spring weather to encourage their members to get out and get active in the volunteer opportunities they offer. How can you inspire your own donors to volunteer not only their funds, but also their time?

For many, the thought of volunteering seems overwhelming and a bothersome chore, but it’s important to stress the positive aspects of the experience, while making opportunities with small time commitments available. In return for your volunteers’ efforts, they’re receiving an enjoyable way to stay connected with old friends, new alumni and the fraternity chapter as a whole.

You may want to take a page from Neil Anand’s book; he’s been a faithful alum of the Beta Rho Chapter of Sigma Nu, University of Pennsylvania, since 2004, managing the alumni relations component of the alumni association for more than 10 years. While some may find the prospect of volunteering a stressful task, Neil finds joy in giving back, as does his fellow alum, Pete Burgum '65, who’s been at it for 35 years.

“I’ve always had a connection to Beta Rho,” Pete says, explaining why he’s committed so many years. “I was very involved as an undergrad. I even ran for commander and lost by one vote. I have a lot of love for the fraternity.”

At 73 years old, Pete jokes that he’s become the old guard. He’s dedicated a lot of time to property management over the years and has had the pleasure of working with many alumni who he says have been the heart and soul of Beta Rho.

While volunteering certainly takes time and commitment, both Neil and Pete say they wouldn’t trade it for anything. They say it’s just one more way they can stay connected and carry on the legacy of Beta Rho.

“I was president for two terms,” Neil explains. “I didn’t want to just fade away. Volunteering for the property company has allowed me to continue many of my friendships and stay connected.”

Can Your Alumni Do the Same?

A good place to start encouraging your alumni to get involved on a volunteer basis is by connecting with those who are already connected and attending events. As Neil states, it’s all about continuing those friendships and maintaining connections.

Even those who no longer live near your fraternity can make an impact. For example, Neil lives in Connecticut and only returns to UPenn for key events, but still has made an incredible impact by making himself available. No matter where alumni are located, there are ways to get involved.

At the end of the day, once you get an alum to take the first step, if you offer a rewarding volunteer experience, you’ll easily win a long-term volunteer, as they find it worth the often minimal time and effort it takes to have fun, help out and relive some great memories.

Need more help getting your alumni engaged and showing up for your events and volunteer opportunities? Ask your Affinity Connection managing editor how you can create a strategy that works,
or call (814) 237-0481.

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Affinity Connection provides strategic, data-driven fundraising, branding and marketing programs that grow donors for nonprofit and membership-based organizations and inbound leads and revenue for for-profit organizations and businesses.  Integrated platforms for data, direct marketing and financial transactions streamline the donor and customer experiences, making every interaction personal and meaningful.

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