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  • Writer's pictureFrances Roen

How to Engage Volunteers from the Very Beginning of Your Campaign

Updated: May 29

Volunteers strengthen communities. They bring passion, dedication, and are often deeply connected to the causes they support. When embarking on a capital campaign, it's crucial to engage your volunteers right from the start. Their early engagement can make a significant difference in the success of your campaign. In this blog post, we'll explore five compelling reasons to include volunteers from the beginning of your capital campaign and provide you with five effective ways to engage them.

So why is it important to engage community volunteers early in the campaign process?

  • Passion and Commitment: Volunteers are likely your most connected donors to the community where they live and/or serve – while they may not all give financially, they often give enormous amounts of time, energy, and personal passion. They are driven by a shared passion for the cause, and involving them early harnesses their commitment for the campaign's success. Their enthusiasm can be infectious and inspire others to get involved.

  • Networks and Relationships: Volunteers bring with them a network of contacts, friends, and family who may be interested in supporting your cause. By involving them early and authentically, you are often invited to cultivate their connections, potentially expanding your campaign's reach and impact.

  • Diverse Skills and Talents: Volunteers come from various backgrounds and possess a wide range of skills and talents. Including them early in the planning stages allows you to identify how they envision their unique skills and abilities could help achieve your campaign goals.

  • Understanding of Community Needs: Volunteers often have their fingers on the pulse of the community, your programs, and the needs of the clients you serve. They should be considered vital contributors to the campaign's early planning, messaging, and goal setting.

  • Boosted Morale and Ownership: When volunteers are engaged from the beginning, they feel a greater sense of ownership and pride in the campaign's success. Their morale is boosted, and they become more invested in its outcomes, which can lead to higher levels of dedication and effort.

What are some easy, effective, and important ways to engage volunteers in your campaign planning process?

  • Include Organization Volunteers On Your Campaign Planning Committee: Ask your most dedicated volunteers to serve on a campaign planning or pre-planning committee. This team can help draft a case for support, clarify campaign objectives, and set a working goal for the potential campaign.

  • Interview Volunteers During Your Feasibility Study: A feasibility study is conducted prior to a capital or significant major gifts campaign. It is part of the campaign planning process and when done right is a superb donor cultivation tool. Because a feasibility study is an opportunity to have conversations with your key stakeholders, it must include volunteers as potential interviewees. How do you know which volunteers to interview? Keep reading…

  • Engage Volunteers As Part of Your Feasibility Study Committee: One of the best ways to identify potential interviewees is by convening a knowledgeable committee that understands the organization’s philanthropic network. This smaller committee should include board members, development staff, a particularly engaged volunteer or two, and a couple of community members.  The committee members can also help encourage potential interviewees to participate in the study.

  • Ask Volunteers To Be Part of The Solicitation Team. While the solicitation of major and lead donors is typically done by a small group of board members and the leadership team, you will need help soliciting your broader base of supporters during later phases of your campaign. With training and support, volunteers can help make asks to mid and lower level donors, host and co-host house parties, and lead smaller mini-campaigns within your campaign. 

Engaging volunteers from the very beginning of your capital campaign is a strategic move that can enhance your campaign's success. Their passion, networks, skills, understanding of community needs, and boosted morale can be powerful assets. By involving them in the early stages of planning, you not only create stronger ambassadors—you create a stronger campaign and enhance the ability of your organization to fully meet its mission.


Frances Roen is a Georgia girl at heart, and has been graciously adopted by beautiful, snowy Minnesota. She is a forty-something daughter, friend, mom, wife, and entrepreneur, and is always on the look-out for a perfectly fried piece of chicken.

Frances is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) with nearly 20 years of experience fundraising and has raised over $200M for nonprofits. She has held fundraising positions at The Bakken Museum, Augustana Care Corporation, and YouthLink and consulted with dozens of nonprofits clients across the globe. In these roles she has been responsible for all aspects of fundraising including comprehensive campaigns, major and planned gifts, annual funds, events, communications, corporate partnerships and volunteers.

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