How CSOs can use volunteer fundraising

Constant recruiting: how CSOs use volunteer fundraising

The ASI-Blagosfera media club investigates what volunteer fundraising is and how it resembles surfing.  


30% of people will donate to charity if they are asked to do so by a friend, reports the fundraising platform Take the Opportunity.

In its simplest form, volunteer fundraising is when a community of a volunteers come together to raise money for an organisation by encouraging their friends to donate to charity.

For example, someone may decide to ask their friends to donate to a cause in honour of their birthday or another significant life event.

Initially, this form of fundraising was nicknamed ‘friendraising’.

Ekaterina Grishunina, manager of the platform Take the Opportunity, explained how volunteer fundraising works and why the activity is beneficial to CSOs.

Where to start

CSOs can use the fundraising platform “Take the Opportunity.” In order to initiate a fundraiser, you create a page on the platform and select an occasion. It could be a birthday, a wedding, a celebration, or any other day on which you would like to help someone. Having selected the occasion, you then choose the charity which you would like to raise money for. There are currently 343 verified organisations to choose from on the platform.

The final step is to share a link to the page on social media and ask friends to donate.

Other models of fundraising

Another way to raise funds is by preparing for a marathon. You can set up a fundraising page and regularly post content from your training sessions. As a result, you are able to share your marathon journey with friends and encourage them to donate.

Alternatively, you could form a team and fundraise together by organising a charity football game.

You could also draw, lead a guided tour, or conduct a master-class and ask friends to donate. For example, artist Tatiana Zadorozhnaya drew little cartoons every day for a month and published them online. Thanks to her work, her friends and subscribers raised over a million roubles for Lighthouse Charity Foundation.

What does volunteer fundraising consist of?

Ekaterina Grishunina describes volunteer fundraising as similar to surfing. CSOs must find a balance, while simultaneously dealing with multiple tasks.

Recruiting supporters. This begins before the project has launched and continues until the very end.

Meeting deadlines. The finish date of the project needs to be decided immediately. Knowing when the fundraiser will end helps to motivate the volunteers and allows the project to be split into several, more manageable stages.

Create a system of recognition. CSOs should promote the fundraiser on their website and in the media.

Audience retention rate. If a volunteer project has been running for consecutive years, it is worth calculating how many participants return the next year. 30% is an excellent retention rate.   

Trust your volunteers. Volunteers work most effectively when CSOs give them more freedom. 

How to start a campaign

CSOs need to first create a collection page, and then they can start recruiting. First, approach people you know, and then turn to the general public. Using tagged or thematic posts on social media is a great way to find volunteers.  

Within two weeks you should have gathered the first group of volunteers.

To motivate the volunteers, you should initiate a competition. For example, the best volunteer could win a unique opportunity, or some merchandise.

There may be a few waves of recruitment before the project ends, and you could even put on an awards ceremony to celebrate the best volunteers. Those who collect the most donations, and not the most money, are considered the best.

“I recommend offering a prize for the number of donations, and not for the amount of money raised, because the people who collected the most donations have approached more people and told them about your organization. This is far more important than one big donation,” says Grishunina.

CSOs should be aware that in the first or second year it will be necessary to invest in volunteer fundraising campaigns. If there are limited funds, the organisation can either look for a sponsor or try to organise it for free.

Volunteer fundraising campaigns needs to be promoted and distributed by media outlets.

How to thank volunteers

During a fundraising campaign CSOs should encourage their volunteer participants. What are the best ways to do this?

  • Offer a unique opportunity, for example a meeting with a celebrity or exclusive merch.
  • Merch campaigns or prizes for the first group of participants. Merch can be created in collaboration with clothing brands.
  • Experiences, for example a group training session or a party for the volunteers.
  • Public recognition: an awards ceremony, media coverage etc.

If someone conducts a volunteer fundraising campaign for your organisation, it is worth getting to know them better. You could add them to the organisation’s mailing list, invite them to visit, and let them know how the money they collected will be spent. 

Where else can you find information about volunteer fundraising?

A free course on volunteer fundraising can be found on Experimentally, an online school for CSOs.

Ekaterina Grishunina also advises reading the book “Dollar Dash. The Behavioural Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising” by Katrina VanHuss and Otis Fulton, and studying the materials provided on her platform Take the Opportunity, including the FAQs on Volunteer Fundraising.

The ASI-Blagosfera Media Centre is a joint project from the Blagosfera Centre and the Agency for Social Information.

 The centre aims to promote the ideas of charity-giving and social responsibility, and to increase the social activity of citizens by using various media formats. One such format is the media club, which conducts training sessions, discussions and educational events. 


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