This is a guest post by Katrina Boratko, the communications manager at Mama Hope. Since participating as one of Mama Hope’s first Global Advocate Fellows herself, she has worked with 12 classes of Global Advocates, mentoring them on fundraising, project management, marketing, and cross-cultural communication.
Converting volunteers into fundraisers can be a challenge. But the work is well worth the reward.
Since MAMA HOPE started the Global Advocate Program in 2012, we’ve trained 74 Global Advocates who have raised over $1.3 million in project funding. This increased funding has enabled us to grow in ways we never thought possible, and our program gives our Advocates the skills they need to land awesome jobs at organizations and companies like Unicef, Google, and Doctors Without Borders.
But recruiting fundraisers is only half the battle. To empower them to achieve stellar results requires a certain level of mentorship and education. To help your organization build a team of powerhouse fundraisers, I’d love to share a few mentorship tips that we’ve adopted over the years after many successes and many setbacks.
Here are four ways you can empower fundraisers to succeed:
Build a Support System
We kick off each Global Advocate Program with a five-day orientation fondly referred to as our “boot camp.” During boot camp, our staff and all of the new Advocates live together under one roof. We’re not only in sessions together, we’re also cooking together, cleaning together, and getting to know one another as a family.
One of the reasons we insist on this style of training is because we want each cohort to get to know one another on a more personal level and to be able to trust each other. Fundraising is a vulnerable activity, and we want our Advocates to lean on each other for support, ask one another for advice, and cheer each other on. Our motto is “collaboration, not competition.”
Whether or not your organization has the time or resources to dedicate to an entire weekend of training and team-building, it’s vital to build a support network of some fashion for your fundraisers.
For example, half-day training sessions, weekly calls, fun monthly activities, or even just a Facebook group or email chain are all great options. If your fundraisers know they aren’t alone, they are much more likely to hit their goals and have fun doing it!
Start With “Why”
We can’t really take credit for this idea—it was lifted directly from Simon Sinek’s incredible TED talk. We use this talk as the jumping-off point to help our Advocates figure out why they want to do this work. What connects them to this project? What about Mama Hope drew them in? When our Advocates are really in touch with their personal “whys,” their fundraising appeals read as genuine, and not like a sales pitch.
If you can work with your fundraisers to help them figure out why they care about your cause, they will be more confident, feel more connected to your mission, and be in a better position to rally new supporters to your organization.
Most of our Global Advocates are also working full or part-time jobs during the fundraising portion of their fellowship. I’m sure many of your volunteers or fundraisers also have busy lives and obligations outside of their commitment to your cause. In order to make sure that our Advocates are ready to hit the ground running after boot camp, and to make sure they aren’t emailing us 12 times a day, we put together a handy guidebook for them to take home.
To allow for greater access, we’ve since turned that guidebook into a Google Drive folder. Inside the folder are all of the resources we could imagine they might need. These resources include:
- Our 501(c)3 EIN information
- Examples of successful email ask drafts
- Fun fundraising event ideas
- Social media best practices
- Links to Classy.org blog posts
In addition, we run group workshops on topics like how to approach “big fish” donors, peer-to-peer campaigns, and grant writing to make sure our Advocates learn how to diversify their approach.
Make Time to Mentor
The secret sauce of our program’s success is the one-on-one time each of our Advocates gets with our team: at least one call per week.
We also set them up with an additional mentor—an Advocate alumnus that has recently finished the same program. This method gives them an additional source of support and inspiration, and most of our graduated Advocates are more than happy to pay it forward and continue to contribute to the cause by helping someone learn the fundraising ropes.
As mentors, we always try to remember that everyone has a unique set of skills and a unique personal network, and the mentorship we provide helps our Advocates tailor their plans specifically to their environment.
If you want your fundraisers to be lifelong supporters, I can’t imagine a better way to keep them engaged than granting them the opportunity to learn from your organization’s staff. With that level of involvement, they see that you are just as invested in them as they are in you and your work!
Persuading someone who has never fundraised before to commit to raising $20,000 is no small feat. We ask our Global Advocates to take a huge leap of faith and trust that we will provide them with all of the tools and time they need to be successful. The incredible thing is that most of them are—and in the process they discover an inner bravery and suite of skills they didn’t even know they had! At the end of the program, our Advocates walk away with so much pride in their immense accomplishment and are ready to tackle even bigger challenges.