I was joking with my wife recently about our friend and their primary use of Facebook: “Has she confused Facebook for Google?”
Over time, her Facebook posts have become questions seemingly ready-made for Google.
“We’re traveling to [insert vacation destination here] next month. Where should we eat when we’re there?”
“Our son needs a good math tutor. Do you know of someone?”
“We need to paint our house. Who have you used? Did they do a good job?”
How do you make important decisions like where you will eat on vacation () or whom you will use to paint your house? Do you go straight to Google and start clicking? Or do you ask for advice from those you trust?
Regardless of the method, I would wager that a common theme helps you finalize your decision: a third-party endorsement.
Whether seeking direction from those you know or those you don’t (think online reviews), a third-party recommendation spotlights the power of endorsement. It’s not something the restaurant, the math tutor, or the house painting company can authentically provide on their own. It’s earned.
This illuminates the importance of volunteers. Specifically, volunteer leaders in a campaign.
Volunteers have credibility with people in their network that you likely don’t. They can also say things in a way you can’t. Sometimes very directly.
They offer the power of endorsement.
As Advancement professionals, sometimes we think of volunteers as too much work. We believe we can do it better ourselves. I know…I’ve been there.
But when we invite philanthropically minded people to engage with us in a meaningful volunteer role, two significant results often occur:
1) their involvement leads to greater philanthropic investment, and
2) they become “raving fans” and active endorsers.
Our mission becomes theirs. Our strategic plan becomes something they can help achieve. Their passion becomes their friend’s passion. Or at least a cause their friend had not previously considered. Perhaps even despite your previous outreach efforts.
Here’s a recent example from a school client I serve. During the Quiet Phase of the school’s campaign, Campaign Steering Committee volunteers agreed to host small-group gatherings to create more awareness about the campaign among their network of friends and acquaintances. For one committee member, they ended up disappointed…their gathering was smaller than the volunteer had hoped.
However, the act of inviting friends to gather and hear about a cause the volunteer cared about inspired one of their invitees. Although this person was unable to attend, the volunteer connected the school’s Development Director to their friend after the fact (at his friend’s request). And this connection eventually led to a $100,000 gift commitment.
This would not have occurred without volunteer involvement…without the power of endorsement…without the school taking the time to connect a loyal supporter to a meaningful volunteer activity.
You may have the most well-thought-out, multi-faceted marketing and communication plan around and gift officers maximizing their time cultivating donors and prospective donors in their portfolios. But if you aren’t engaging volunteers in your campaign in a meaningful way and not asking them to exercise the power of their endorsement, there is a segment of support you’re missing.
Don’t overlook the power of endorsement.