CBC Blog

Volunteers are an Investment

Volunteerism is at a 15 year low and in the Cincinnati area, volunteerism is twice below the national average. Finding and engaging volunteers for your nonprofit organization is a constant challenge. At the CBC Nonprofit Lunch and Learn sponsored by VonLehman CPA and Advisory Firm, we explored some of these challenges and solutions with our guest speakers, Doug Bolton of Cincinnati Cares and Kurt Reiber from Freestore Foodback.

Kurt Reiber (pictured right) mentioned that when a person volunteers, the individual is giving the organization his time, an individual’s most precious commodity. Many times a person only volunteers once.  How does a nonprofit inspire volunteers to return? In the past, organizations tried to put volunteers in a certain mold to fit the nonprofit.  The Freestore Foodbank is using a more “strength-based” volunteer system.  Also, volunteers need to become a fan and have passion for the nonprofit. He suggested pairing experienced volunteers with new volunteers.  He always gives a welcome speech and he tailors the message based on the audience and makes them feel connected to the families served.

Doug Bolton (pictured left) says if you want to make a change, then you need to “blow up” what you’re doing today and do something different, starting with the top of the company to the bottom.  He recommended the following principles for building a volunteer community:

1.  Volunteers are core to your existence, it’s not an “add-on”.
2.  Invest in Volunteerism.  For every $1.00 spent on volunteer engagement, the return is $3.00 – $6.00.
3.  Focus on the biggest community needs such as hunger and poverty.
4.  Volunteers can become your company’s greatest asset, so remember to respond to every volunteer inquiry.
5.  If you aren’t digital, you don’t “exist” so it’s important to have a website and use social media.
6.  Use the ORBIT (ongoing relationship beyond initial transaction) philosophy.

The Covington Business Council is proud to partner with VonLehman CPA and Advisory Firm to offer quarterly nonprofit lunch and learns to our members.  For additional information, please contact CBC Executive Director, Pat Frew at pfrew@cbcky.com.

Written by Molly Weaver, Capacity Coordinator, Covington Business Council

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