Six Simple Ways to Help Volunteers Make Successful Asks

Remember the movie Jerry McGuire?

There’s a famous line in it where sports agent Jerry Maguire, played by Tom Cruz, says to his player client Rod Tidwell,

“Help Me Help You.” 

This is a guest post by our consultant Dan Bruer – who is a movie buff, and a brilliant fundraising strategist!

From Dan: 

I think of this movie line often. Especially when I’m working with board members and volunteers who want to make successful asks to their personal and business networks.

There are a lot of incredible resources available to train volunteers on how to make the ask.

We teach them how to ask the right questions. They learn how to pitch the need and talk about results. And they can learn when to stay silent.

But our wonderful volunteers need more.

I’ve worked with brave board members and volunteers who are ready to ask, for over more than 20 years.  And I find that they need more help than simple training if they want to make successful asks.

They need help, most of all, finding time.

Your volunteers really do care about your mission.

But volunteer time is their third job – or more!  Their first job is family.  Their second job is professional work.  Their third is volunteer time.

Your volunteers are time-stressed.

Like most everyone, your volunteers wake up every day with a long list of family and work to-do’s that take priority.

They are buried in email, text and social media through the day.  Successful and well connected people are very busy.

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Your volunteers really do want to make their asks.

But when to write the email or make a call to ask for a meeting?  And often they need to call and write again to get the meeting!

With limited time and busy lives, this is where “Helping Them Help You” can make all the difference.

Here’s a simple 6 step checklist you can follow to help all your volunteers be wildly successful:

1. Meeting Request Email and Phone Scripts

In their busy day, don’t make them have to stop and think about what to write in an email or say on a call.

Give your volunteers a cut and paste email text where they can fill in their name, proposed dates with all the right things written that will make their prospect say “yes.”

Give your volunteers a meeting request script they can put in their wallet or purse.

They don’t have to think about it.

When they have five minutes they can pull it out, walk through what to say, call, get on with their day.

This is the first step to help them make successful asks.

2. Second Meeting Request Email, Phone Scripts

We all know that busy people don’t always respond to phone calls and email.

It often takes multiple requests.

So give your volunteers Cut and Paste email and phone scripts to follow-up their first meeting requests.

“Hey Jim, a week ago I reached out to get on your calendar and share some information about an organization I’m very involved with that I think you, like me, will find compelling.  I would love to get a few minutes over coffee to share….

3. Advance Materials Prior to Meeting

Give your volunteers everything they need for the meeting in advance – donor packets!

They can keep them in their car, at their office and home.

When a meeting is set, it’s grab and go.

4. Pre-Meeting Email, Phone Script

Give them a cut and paste email and call script to touch base before the meeting:

“Hey Jim, really appreciate the time tomorrow and I’m very excited to share with you the incredibly important and life saving work taking place at….”

5. Thank You Letter,  Email, Phone Script

After the visit, give them a thank you script.

Something they can cut and paste and personalize as time allows.

6. Contact Report Sheet

You need to know:

  • who was asked,
  • when,
  • how they were asked,
  • for how much,
  • if they said yes,
  • their ultimate giving potential, and
  • what your volunteer recommends be done next to retain the donor and bring them closer to the organization.

Give your volunteers a simple tracking sheet to quickly write basic and necessary info after they connect with a donor.

They can easily hand over or, in this day and age, take a picture and text it to designated staff person. Talk about easy!

BONUS 7th step: Follow-Up Letter, Email, Phone Script

We want to keep the new donors your volunteers have brought into the fold.

Send your volunteer another cut and paste set of tools they can quickly and easily use,

“Hey Jim, can’t thank you enough for the gift last March, I want you to know how much it has mattered to the people we serve.  Since March we have….”

BOTTOM LINE: Help volunteers make successful asks

Help Them Help You

Here’s how to make it easy for volunteer solicitors to:

  • overcome the time barrier,
  • increase their ease in asking,
  • increase the number of asks being made,
  • increase the satisfaction for the time and energy they have to give your organization.

What will be your results?

When you follow this simple 6 Step Checklist, you’ll find another, more famous line, from the movie Jerry MaGuire….

Show Me the Money!