Setting Expectations for Young Alumni Volunteers

Posted on 11/11/2018

Good volunteers make a big difference in the success of your annual giving efforts. It’s their love for the institution, their personal connections, and their shared experiences that make them effective fundraisers. But recruiting the right people to serve as volunteers requires a lot of time and effort. When you finally have them on board, it’s crucial to keep them engaged and happy. Successful engagement includes setting clear expectations and letting them know exactly what it is that you want them to do. This is particularly important in the case of younger volunteers who may have less experience in leadership roles.

The annual giving team at James Madison University (JMU) recognizes that communicating expectations can have an impact on the success of a volunteer program. Having recently launched a new group of young alumni leaders known as the GOLD Network Board, the team wanted to ensure that each volunteer understood what they’d signed up to do. With this in mind, they created a charge (essentially a job description) that laid out the following GOLD Network volunteer expectations:

  • Making a gift annually at a leadership level
  • Attending alumni events in their area
  • Spreading the word on social media about the university and the impact of philanthropy
  • Participating in retreats on campus and by phone
  • Engaging and soliciting a group of 10-15 fellow alumni each year

In addition, members are asked to serve on one of five specialized committees to spearhead focused activities. These groups include:

  • Relations: Interfacing with alumni chapters and other boards
  • Marketing: Assisting with messaging and social media strategy
  • Stewardship: Advising on donor benefits and helping with donor follow-up once gifts are received
  • Development: Helping to educate young alumni on the importance of giving and to train volunteers
  • Network: Serving as career and networking advisors for young alumni

Gretchen Armentrout, JMU’s director of annual giving, has been impressed by the GOLD Network’s level of engagement and interest in fundraising. By setting clear expectations for the group, they’ve been able to recruit active volunteers who are excited and motivated by their charge. She reports that GOLD Network volunteers even took their advocacy role a step further during the school’s recent giving day, when marketing committee members extended their reach by working with JMU alumni chapter leadership to design messaging and create social media content.

When you clearly communicate expectations for your volunteers, you help ensure that the group is ready and excited for the commitment. And there’s no doubt that motivated and engaged volunteers have a positive effect on annual giving efforts. By starting this with your young alumni, you will see success not only in the volunteer program in the near-term, you’ll also likely set the stage for continued involvement and leadership as your volunteers mature.

Want to learn more? CLICK HERE for AGN’s Webinar on Productive Annual Fund Volunteers.