We know that it takes time, skill, and effort to effectively engage volunteers, but funding nonprofit staff to manage volunteers is a challenge. Here are a few ideas to help secure grant funding for volunteer engagement:
Capture Data and Impact
Before asking for funds, be prepared with stats to show the potential impact. InitLive can help capture data on volunteer hour tracking and each individuals and group's impact over time. Consider how many man hours your volunteers have worked ans what the that value means to your organization. Once you have numbers (of volunteers, of events they helped execute, of people they assisted, etc.), translate that into impact for the people your non-profit is trying to help. How many people found jobs as a result of your volunteer-run job fair? How many kids improved their reading level because of the 100 volunteers you engaged as after-school tutors? To further personalize this data for potential donors, capture a quote from someone helped by your non-profit and what it meant to them as well as a quote from a volunteer.
Identify Potential Funders
You're probably already searching for funders using online databases such as GrantWatch or subscribed to e-newsletters like the Philanthropy News Digest's RFP bulletin. While many of these opportunities will not explicitly say anything about funding volunteer engagement, if they are interested in your core service areas as a non-profit, then you can pitch volunteer management to them as part of your proposal.
Often corporations want to engage in their local communities through both volunteers and giving, so research your geographic area as well as identifying the employers of your volunteers. Many employers will "match" employee volunteer time with a cash donation or consider event sponsorships or donations if the request comes from an employee.
Check out Strategies to Secure Corporate Grants for Volunteer Programs for more ideas.
Write Grants Strategically
When writing the proposal, make the link very clear between volunteers and achieving your project's goals. Use data to show that by engaging volunteers your non-profit is maximizing cost-effectiveness by reducing staff time needed or is able to help larger numbers of people. But also be sure you clearly state the staff duties required to engage volunteers, as often funders are not aware. In the budget, include a percentage of a staff person's time to recruit, onboard, and manage volunteers. In the budget notes, include any corporate "match" you expect from engaging employee volunteer groups or "in-kind donations", such as the value of products that have been donated (perhaps snacks or lunch for the volunteers?). This shows the funder you can multiply their impact by adding resources to theirs.
For more help using InitLive to capture the impact of your volunteer program so you can tell that story to funders, please contact us.