To change or not to change your annual campaign! That is the question.

Every Friday is “Organization Development (O.D.) Fridays” here at DonorDreams blog. Last week my post was titled “Would you please solve the REAL problem? Structure Drives Behavior!” It was based on John Greco’s post on how structure drives behavior, and I applied it to non-profit organization’s annual campaigns and their use of donor database contact reports.

In last Friday’s post, I offered a few suggestions on how your agency might change its annual campaign “structure” to encourage fundraising volunteers to change their behavior when it comes to completing contact reports.  (Please circle back to last Friday’s post to read a few of those suggestions)

Well, later that evening John Greco circled back to my blog post and offered the following suggestion using the comment box:

“What if we used the natural motivations of a volunteer to apply some pressure to comply … How about:  for a volunteer to get the next donor name and contact information, they must return the contact form … To make this work even better, some visibility to what’s in the queue would maybe create the urgency to complete the contact form to get to the next donor?”

As I try to do with all comments to this blog, I responded quickly; however John’s suggestion has haunted me for the last week. While it seems perfectly logical, I am unable to stop going back and forth in my head as to whether or not this would work. My head says “YES” and my gut says “maybe“.

So, I’m done over-thinking this topic, and I’ve decided to try something different today with the DonorDreams blog. I’m not going to pontificate about this subject and give you the pros and cons. Instead, I am simply sharing John’s suggestion and asking you to think it through and weigh-in with your thoughts. I always say that “we can all learn from each other,” but let’s actually try to put this mantra into practice today.

Would you attempt this approach with your annual campaign this year? Why? Why not?

There are no right or wrong answers! There are only those of us who are willing or unwilling to share their thoughts.

OK . . . it is your turn. Please scroll down and invest the next 60 seconds of your life in responding via the comment box. Come on . . . please?

Here’s to your health! (See you tomorrow for a new “Organizational Development Friday” post)

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847


  1. Hi Erik- I like the idea, in theory, sort of like how I like communism, in theory, and the idea (sorry Fred) that you never leave an “ask” meeting without a pledge sheet. Each is a good goal, just not practical. In reality, I think volunteers would find it patronizing to be given one ask at a time. I also think it slows down the process as it means they can only set up one ask at a time. When I get my assignment from the Board that I serve, I try to sit down and schedule all my appointments at one shot. If I get the assignments one at a time, that option would not be possible. Finally, considering how hard it is to get all of our volunteers to set up all of their meetings, I am wary of throwing anything into the mix to make it harder or longer.

  2. Interesting twist! Hmmmm. Well I think an obvious pro is that it adds accountability, however for my volunteers that have several names, they have to work at getting appointments so it could severly slow the process. I know how we are trying to add accountability for our return of feedback forms is stressing that the RD Committee (made up of volunteers, many of whom are soliciting) really are making this a priority- it is a strategic goal to gather more data about our donors to further our efforts in being donor centered and connecting to them – this is what the RD Committee has been stressing to me, so I shared this goal of theirs to create the accountability. I have no idea if it will help but this is the first time we are trying it so always room for improvement. What gets measured gets done, so I will probably create a dashboard not just on money raise, asked complete, but forms turned in.

  3. Erik, Like everything in working with volunteers and donors I think there is a lot of diversity and individualized approaches that work to motivate people. There are volunteers that you can give ten asks to and they do them all in one day and get them done – this approach would probably annoy and patronize them a bit.

    However, if I have a volunteer that loves to ask for ten names/packets but rarely gets through two or three or maybe responds to this type of incentive – it could work.

    There are a few standard things that work with all volunteers, thanking them, communicating with them, etc. but when you are looking at motivation it is all so individual and personal that not one approach will be perfect for all. So I think John’s suggestion could be another “tool” in your toolbox in motivating volunteers.

  4. I cringed a bit at the statement, “What if we used the natural motivations of a volunteer to apply some pressure to comply….” It reminds me of “hitting someone up for a donation.” I doubt most people volunteer because they want more “pressure” put on them. Rather they do so because they believe in the work. If it is important to the organization to gather contact information (and it should be) then that needs to be made clear to potential volunteers. Those people that do not want to ask more questions of a donor and report back may then determine they do not want to visit/solicit. Not all volunteers are right for all tasks.

    Selecting the right volunteers for specific responsibilities may take up as much time and energy as determining appropriate prospects and ask amounts. Just as it is important to “make the case” for support to a prospective donor, it is important to make the case to a volunteer solicitor to provide contact report information. An organization should be able to give examples of how the information gathered led to an increased gift amount, additional donors or even a new program sponsor. People like to be a part of a successful effort. If contact report information leads to success, people will be more excited and motivated to provide it.

    There is no “one size fits all” approach but organizations should be clear up front with what is expected and why. That way it is more likely the organization gets the right people to do what is needed.

  5. Although a nice concept..this would not work in my organization as all of our volunteers have assigned contacts and me holding something back from them would not stop them from moving forward with the donor….

  6. Thank you to everyone who commented on Thursday’s blog post. All of your insights are appreciated. I suspect that for this prospect assignment approach to work, you’d need to do some work ahead of time with the volunteers. You’d need to help them understand why this change is being made and build consensus around taking this approach. Otherwise, it very well might feel patronizing as Dani suggested in her comment.

    Thanks for the great participation on Thursday. You all made my day!


  7. Personally, this approach wouldn’t work at my Club. My volunteers choose who they are going to ask, so I wouldn’t be able to hold anything from them. In addition, we’re working with volunteers, so we have to respect them, and their approach to making asks. Volunteers should be motivated by the cause, not because you’re holding somethig from them.

  8. I agree with Dani and Rose. Unfortunately, I think it would not only slow the process but deter potential volunteers from being will to make asks…

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