Lean funders are always looking for leverage: Where and how can we invest our limited assets to get the best returns? Will our grantees survive these challenging times and growing needs? How will we all (funders and nonprofits) rebuild our communities in a post-pandemic world? Will we look for innovative ways to strengthen organizational capacity?

Supporting effective volunteer engagement, and the infrastructure that sustains it, is an often-overlooked solution. A nonprofit’s ability to mobilize and use volunteer resources effectively is critical to their thriving and better fulfilling their missions. We know this from both experience and research. However, few funders focus on the importance of this capacity, and its direct impact on their grantee partners’ performance.

Volunteer engagement as a core strategy

Past research demonstrates a strong connection between organizations that operate with volunteer engagement as a core strategy to accomplish their mission, and the overall health and effectiveness of the organization. Take for example:

  • Organizations that leverage volunteers and their skills to accomplish their missions are more adaptable, sustainable, and capable of scaling.
  • Organizations that engage volunteers are as equally effective in accomplishing their mission as their peers without volunteers. But they do so at almost half the median budget.
  • Volunteers give up to ten times more money than non-volunteers. And most donate to the organizations where they are involved.
  • Effective volunteer engagement can reap up to a $6 return for every dollar invested.

Read the full article about volunteer engagement by Jane Leighty Justis at Exponent Philanthropy.