Posted by Jay Wilkinson

Too many nonprofit leaders expect that their volunteers will automatically feel empowered to help raise money for their cause. But research has shown over and over again that this is not the case.

Empowering your volunteers to fundraise is an important step and one that must be intentional. Online fundraising is crucial, absolutely. But you should not ignore the people standing right in front of you—in the real world—who are already invested in your cause. Your volunteers are a valuable resource and can be as effective as the Donate Now button on your homepage.

In fact, I believe that everyone in a management or leadership position in a nonprofit should stand eyeball-to-eyeball with every single volunteer, and invite him or her personally to help extend your cause. It’s as simple as saying, “If you come across someone who has the means to help us, whether it’s with time or money, please share your story with them. Explain why you support our organization.” And then equip them with what they need in order to feel confident about sharing their story.

The reality is, many volunteers are tentative about this—they’re a little unsure of themselves when it comes to representing an organization. And most are not going to just take the initiative on their own to go out, recruit and raise money.

That’s why it’s so important to empower them to be assertive, connect with others and be bold about furthering your cause.

Don’t ever think of fundraising in silos of “online” and “offline” efforts—these two worlds should always be integrated for the most effective and successful fundraising results.

As important as your online efforts are, so are your efforts offline. Invest in your volunteers, and make them your strongest evangelists. Just don’t expect that they will be inspired to take action and further your cause on their own. The empowerment they need comes from you.