Gentle Persistence

Volunteers are one of the gems of the nonprofit world and are an invaluable asset to making connections in the community, raising funds, and getting day-to-day work done. Board members and campaign volunteers are two of the best resources for bringing in new gifts.

But sometimes it can be quite a challenge to get follow through on specific requests. I’ve seen many tools to help us remind each other and our volunteers like: going through lists of assignments as a group (peer pressure), using email reminders to make follow up easier, setting regular times for volunteers to make phone calls. But, these techniques do not always work and how we handle these reminders is important for our ongoing relationships with our volunteers.

It is important that you really believe your volunteers have high value. If you don’t believe they add value then either you have the wrong volunteers or they are doing the wrong jobs. When I want something done for me I try and take the perspective of a servant (cheesy but it helps). I try to be straight forward about what I am asking about and offer my help as often as I can. I use statements like, “is there anything I can provide for you to help with calling Mr. X,” or “have you had the opportunity to write your thank you note to Mrs. Y.” I have found asking this way gives them a reminder but also gives them an out so they don’t feel like you are nagging them.

Any tricks you would like to share? How do you remind your volunteers to help you with key tasks?


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