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Strategic Fund Development: Building Profitable Relationships That Last, Third Edition by Simone P. Joyaux

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Enabling Your Volunteers

Enabling volunteers is the final one of the four relationships critical to a healthy organization and effective fund development. It is last but definitely not least. Your relationship with volunteers enables them to take meaningful action on behalf of your organization.

There are several predictable benefits if you enable your volunteers well: Enabling your volunteers (or staff for that matter) helps your organization achieve its goals. When you enable, your volunteers can do what is necessary to help your organization. And when you enable well, you will likely raise more money.

Volunteers are critically important to nonprofit/NGO organizations. Whether individuals serve as board members, do clerical work, solicit gifts, or provide direct service, they make a difference in your organization. Volunteers contribute the “voluntary action for the common good,” which is the hallmark of philanthropy. Volunteers justify your organization as philanthropy and extend your reach, capacity, and capability.

I first conceived of this concept in my role as a fundraiser. I was trying to figure out how to manage volunteers well—and was dissatisfied with what I read about working with volunteers. So my concept of enabling focused, first, on volunteers in fund development. But enabling is equally important for governance.

Look in the mirror, Ms. CEO and Mr. Executive Director. If your board isn’t as effective as it must be, look in the mirror. Part of your job is to enable ...

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