Your Fundraising Team Is Larger Than You Think

Nonprofit Management

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When you think of your fundraising team, who do you picture? A Director of Philanthropy? Major Gifts Officer? Maybe a Fundraising Events Coordinator? You may be surprised to find your fundraising team is much larger than it appears. From the perspective of prospective donors, every member of your organization, from CEO to volunteer, makes up the fundraising team.

You may be thinking to yourself, “Staff and volunteers outside our department don’t accept donations.” But, consider this: if non-philanthropy staff and volunteers take part in greeting guests or working your fundraising events, they’re playing an indirect role in convincing prospective donors to make that first gift.

While most staff members and volunteers may not physically accept donations, their attitudes, knowledge, and communication with the public form prospective donors’ first impression of your organization. That impression can determine whether prospective donors make a gift to your nonprofit.

Recognizing all staff members and volunteers as ambassadors helps you control the impression the public forms about your organization. Here are two steps you can take to get everyone at your organization on the same page and working to make the best first impression.

1. Train employees and volunteers on donors’ fundraising options

Any staff member or volunteer who will be interacting with the public should be trained on the fundraising options available to prospective donors. People who will be representing your organization should be able to direct prospective donors to the nonprofit’s donation page or to an appropriate member of the Philanthropy Department. An easy way to inform all employees and volunteers is to incorporate a training into the onboarding process and revisit this training at least once per year if information changes. Making a training video is an easy way to disseminate this information without having to have a member of the fundraising team available at every training session.

2. Consider “Secret Shopping” as a prospective donor to test the knowledge of staff and volunteers

It’s one thing to train staff and volunteers on where to direct prospective donors, but how can you make sure that training sticks? You don’t want to lose the opportunity to cultivate a relationship with a new donor due to misinformation or uninformed ambassadors. Get someone to approach staff members or volunteers and ask how they can make a donation to your nonprofit. Your staff and volunteers should be able to direct the prospective donor to the appropriate person or to your organization’s donation page. If the secret donor reports that the information was incorrect or that their experience wasn’t a good one, you’ll know that retraining is necessary.

Meet with the employee or volunteer one-on-one to provide them with updated information and further training so that all prospective donors have the best first experience with your organization.


Your organization’s staff and volunteers help prospective donors form a first impression of your organization. If that first impression is a good one, great! They’ll likely donate and feel good about it. A bad first impression makes it hard to earn that first gift and cultivate a relationship with prospective donors. By training and testing staff and volunteers on how to make the best first impression, you can take control of your nonprofit’s reputation and improve your chances of receiving that first gift from prospective donors.

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