They volunteer for them. How about for you?
If you’re a nonprofit consultant, you probably worked with, or at least had some contact with volunteers. Volunteers are one of the great advantages of the nonprofit sector. A volunteer does something that otherwise a business would need to pay for! That’s cool for them.
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could have volunteers, too?
Well, family child labor aside (yeah, I was one of those “volunteers” in my dad’s drugstore for years), it’s hard to imagine a situation where you’d get someone to volunteer for you. Even today it’s considered unethical for interns to go without pay.
Still, you can have volunteers, and they’ll be highly qualified and get you business, too.
It’s called your network.
It’s not too hard to develop your personal and professional cadre of volunteers who will promote your work to tens, if not hundred of people who can buy your nonprofit consulting services.
Here’s five steps to get you started:
1) A firm grasp on exactly what you do. What, like you don’t know what you do? You probably have an idea in your own mind, but can you succinctly describe it to others? That might mean picking and choosing a few specific examples of what you’re great at doing, or what you want to do more. Are you a special event specialist? Are you the diva of databases? Whatever it is, make sure that someone knows, and don’t assume they “get it.” come up with some examples.
2) The second step? Tell them. Be intentional. Your business, your income, is too important to be casual. And never assume that someone already knows, especially if you haven’t seen them for a while.
3) Third? Ask them to tell someone else. You might think that you don’t need to be so forward. After all, if they know what you do, and see some reason to let someone know about it, wouldn’t they? You’d hope so. But if you tell they you’d be grateful for helping spread the word about your work, you increase the chances that they’ll remember when the opportunity comes up.
4) Volunteer to be their volunteer. Never leave a meeting where you ask someone to help you without asking what you can do for them. Your asking will be a pleasant surprise, and they might not come up with anything. yet they’ll remember you as someone who asked.
5) Last? Follow up. Like any good volunteer program, make a list of your volunteers. And touch base with your volunteers once in a while – just remind them that you’re there and still referable, give them the results (and thanks) for their helping you, and report back on your volunteering for them.
That’s it. Come up with how you describe your work. Tell someone. And (and this part is huge) ask them to tell someone else. Volunteer to help them. Follow up. They are now officially your volunteer. Maybe you officially deputize them by giving them a lapel pin with your logo on it, or at least pay for their coffee!
See, volunteers, even for you.