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Giving Australia consistently found that human resources were the most valuable resource to charities, whether they were paid or volunteer. Furthermore, the primary reason listed for not fundraising or engaging in volunteer recruitment was not having the personnel (staff or volunteer) to undertake these roles.
Beyond staffing, having more knowledge and deeper understanding of fundraising best practice, the issues involved in volunteer recruitment, how community business partnerships work and how to run a social enterprise were all identified as important for improving NPOs’ support generation capacity. This may include training and professional development opportunities for existing staff as well as harnessing new technologies to effectively engage with current and future supporters. Research participants offered a number of thoughts on how to strengthen future giving.
Cooperation and collaboration
Opportunities for mutual benefit should be identified or created and may include collaborative funding arrangements, co-location and shared back of house costs.
Dedicated managers of volunteers
Having a paid or unpaid coordinator/manager of volunteers was found to be the most critical resource for recruiting and retaining volunteers, highlighting the importance of focused efforts and investing in human resources.
Professional development for the nonprofit sector
Specific skills gaps were identified in terms of outcomes measurement and corporate volunteering. Nonprofit CEOs and board members also needed development opportunities in monitoring and resourcing support generation.
Diverse opportunities for volunteer participation
Virtual, skilled and flexible volunteering opportunities were needed to suit emerging demographic and lifestyle trends. This offering may be particularly important for women and young people and can be a pathway towards further support.
Use technology to enhance the donor experience
In the experience of NPO staff and fundraisers interviewed, many donors want and expect technology in their giving practices. The better this experience (in terms of ease, convenience and satisfaction) the more likely they will continue their engagement
Maintain relationships at the heart of supporter engagement
Participants also emphasised that good practice was perennially all about relationships. Understanding and meeting donor and volunteer motivations, preferences and expectations were the keys to success, regardless of channel.
Minimise red tape
Unnecessary red tape dampening especially volunteering was a consistent comment. Change was needed (e.g. police checks and responsible service of alcohol certificates for volunteers at local fundraising events). Although the importance of such regulation was recognised, there was a general sentiment that the red tape should be minimised to be less time‑consuming and not deter potential volunteers.
Another key policy area of concern for the nonprofit sector was privacy laws, triggered by observing recent occurrences in the UK sector. While the government was seen to have an important role in protecting the privacy of online and other donors, participants expressed fear of restrictive knee-jerk policies.
Policy initiatives to stimulate giving
Bequests and workplace giving were two areas identified by participants as having a large unrealised potential. With the right enabling environment, be that around more promotion, more incentives or more understanding of these areas, they were seen as significant, neglected opportunities to grow giving.
Collect, coordinate and make available research
Study respondents sought ongoing information on topics such as: giving and volunteering trends; effectiveness of different fundraising mechanisms across cause areas; and uptake of specific technologies by different demographics.
To read the full reports and factsheets, go to https://www.communitybusinesspartnership.gov.au/about/research-projects/giving-australia-2016/
The Graduate Certificate of Business (Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies) includes eight key business units, all delivered through a nonprofit lens. Each unit is designed to give you the skills and know-how to manage a nonprofit organisation.