What is the Cycle of Giving?
Dynamic Non Profit Marketing Team
One of the most valuable things you can do for your organization is to develop your most valuable assets – your volunteers. The Cycle of Giving is the donor’s journey with your organization from their entry point to becoming a far more committed supporter. Notice we used the word “journey.” It doesn’t start and stop with how they came to be involved in your organization – it depends on continually developing their potential to connect even more deeply with your work.
Organizations often forget that volunteering can be a powerful step in someone’s development journey – from concerned citizen to active participant to passionate supporter.
Moving people around the Cycle of Giving depends on intentional action from your Development Department. It’s the job of the Development Department to always be thinking about how anyone connected with your organization – volunteer, prayer partner, financial donor – can be moved around the Cycle of Giving. Not everyone might move between roles, of course, but it should be top priority for all Development Teams to consider at all times.
Just look at the benefits of moving volunteers around the Cycle of Giving:
- Carolyn goes to church and someone is speaking about the work of a local Rescue Mission. The Rescue Mission’s spokesperson asks for prayer partners, and Carolyn signs up. She begins to pray for the charity during her daily devotions.
- Carolyn wants to find out more about the Rescue Mission’s prayer needs. She looks on the website and sees a call for volunteers from the Director. She calls the Rescue Mission and signs up to help. She begins sorting donated clothes and serving food.
- While at the Rescue Mission, Carolyn becomes more aware of the in-kind gifts the Rescue Mission needs, and asks the Volunteer Coordinator about putting together a food drive. The Volunteer Coordinator connects her with the Development Team, who assist her in setting up a food drive. Carolyn tells her friends and family about the Rescue Mission and urges people to bring in food, clothing and other critically needed items.
- One day at the Rescue Mission, Carolyn and the Volunteer Coordinator are sharing about their families, and Carolyn says her husband is a manager at ABC Company. The Volunteer Coordinator knows that the Development Director has been hoping to get in the door of ABC Company to talk to them about sponsorships for months. Now, because of this conversation with Carolyn, they have a contact name. The Volunteer Coordinator shares this important new contact with the Development Team, and a new corporate partnership begins.
- Carolyn begins receiving the Rescue Mission’s direct mail and shares the letters with her whole family; together, they decide that they want to financially support the people receiving help at the Rescue Mission. Because of her conversations with Rescue Mission staff, Carolyn knows that becoming an automatic monthly giver helps even more because the Rescue Mission can then count on her gifts – so she signs up to be a monthly donor.
- After years of volunteering, the Development Director approaches Carolyn to tell her about Planned Giving opportunities. Knowing from her firsthand experiences about all the areas of need at the Rescue Mission, Carolyn decides to put the Rescue Mission in her Will.
Look how each step leads to the next! Carolyn simply agreed to pray for the Rescue Mission – and it led her to getting personally involved, from serving as a volunteer and organizing donation drives to helping establish corporate partnerships and a planned future gift. Notice that Carolyn’s journey doesn’t happen overnight – it took months and years of being engaged for her to take each new step. But those steps were possible because the Volunteer Coordinator and Development Team worked together to help Carolyn find new ways to express her passion for helping others.
The Need for Fully-Formed Development Teams
Carolyn’s journey is a great example of how Development and Volunteer Teams can work together to guide every supporter through the Cycle of Giving.
If possible, your Volunteer Coordinator should be brought in as part of the Development Team, instead of existing in a separate department. That way, your Development Department can be focused on a strategy of engaging multiple types of supporters and moving them around the Cycle of Giving.
We can’t stress how important it is for your Development Team to communicate well within their own department and with all other staff. It provides the opportunity to engage with people you might otherwise not come into contact with – volunteers who can turn out to be real heroes for your organization. It takes time, but as with Carolyn, it has the potential to yield incredible benefits.
Need input on your Volunteer program? Or need help showing Volunteer Coordinators and Development Teams how to better partner? Brewer Direct’s Executive VP Client Strategic Development Shellie Speer is ready to help!
Shellie has been working side-by-side with Rescue Mission clients for over 30 years. Shellie’s commitment to meeting the specific needs of her clients remains her first priority. Her role at Brewer is to bring comprehensive development and her passion for consulting to clients and guiding them through big picture strategy within their organizations.