Which Comes First: Donors or Volunteers?

Just like the well-known phrase, “Which comes first: the chicken or the egg?” you might wonder “Which comes first: donors or volunteers?” Many United Ways use and promote the phrase “Give. Advocate. Volunteer.” which puts the word “give” before the word “volunteer.” However, we would argue that this phrase should be reordered to read “Volunteer. Give. Advocate.”

From our experience in working with United Ways, you will have an easier time and be more successful connecting with the younger generation by inviting them to volunteer for your United Way before asking them for a charitable contribution.

By encouraging young people to come out and volunteer for your United Way, you will gain a following of young people who will understand first-hand who you are and what you do. However, when inviting them to volunteer, make sure to invite them to volunteer specifically for your United Way, opposed to a partner agency or another organization, in order for them to make a connection and build a relationship with your United Way.

Through volunteering, young people will begin to see who you are, understand your existence, and will be encouraged to continue helping out in the community. Once they have gained an understanding of your United Way and have built a relationship with you through volunteering, they will be moved to contribute financially to your United Way, as well. While their gift may be small at first, or may only be a contribution of time while they are young, gaining a relationship with the younger generation will be beneficial to your United Way down the road. Building a relationship with the younger generation based on volunteering is the egg, which will become your donors of the future.