Tag Archives: Audience development and volunteers

Audience development and keeping your volunteers happy from the start

So, I signed up online to volunteer for a nonprofit in my area.  I received a form letter beginning with “Hello!”  The volunteer sign-up form had my name as the first field.  Why didn’t they use my name?  Did they want to start off on the foot that I didn’t matter as a unique person?  They do want me to volunteer, right?

I am amazed at how many organizations that are in need of volunteers actually do not treat their volunteers as well as they could, and often they start off on the wrong foot.  Keeping volunteers happy from the beginning is of major importance for many reasons.  For one, they will be doing work that is needing to be done for free (you want and need their help).  Secondly, because they now have an inside look at your organization, their new perceptions can be extremely helpful or harmful.  In this day and age of social media and having 200+ friends alerted to our thoughts throughout the day, it could take only a few people saying something good or bad to have it spread like gangbusters.

Yes, keeping volunteers happy takes a little bit of time and effort, but having people that will actually do good and spread the good word for you is well worth those extra few seconds to address them as a person. Treat your volunteers with respect and gratitude right from the start and you will be happy too.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists



“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

Join us for our next webinar:
March 16th – Noon ET

Working with Mobile Technology to Develop Your Audience
With the rapid adoption of web-enabled cell phones, smartphones and tablet computers, what options are available to arts professionals who want to engage their audiences via mobile devices? How can artists and organizations implement these options cost effectively without taking focus away from the art?


Shoshana Fanizza, Audience Development Specialists
Co-hosted with David Dombrosky, Chief Marketing Officer, InstantEncore
Co-produced with David Weuste, Rosebrook Classical

To Register: Click Here! 


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Filed under arts management, Audience Development, Volunteer coordination, Volunteer Management, volunteering

Audience development brings out the best in volunteers

This week I am working on an event and helping to fill in as the volunteer coordinator.  Figuring I would put the word out in various places for our opportunities, I posted:

  1. In local papers
  2. On Volunteer Connections Websites
  3. Twitter
  4. LinkedIn
  5. Facebook
  6. By sending out emails
  7. By spreading the word in person

Can you guess where I had the most success?  I found the majority of volunteers through using Facebook and emails.  The people on the email list and on Facebook were the people that were most connected to the dancers and the artistic director of the event.  The people that want to volunteer the most are the ones that want to help their friends and family.  My friends and family weren’t as interested when I asked in person the people that I knew, the volunteers are all friends and family of the people in the performance.

You can obtain volunteers from the outside sources, but they may not want to remain a volunteer for the long haul unless you start using audience development (relationship building) to get to know them.  Part of audience development is learning about your supporters.  For new volunteers, you will want to ask them basic questions to learn more about their preferences and reasons for volunteering:

  1. What are their strengths and skills?
  2. Do they like working with people?
  3. What do they enjoy doing?
  4. What job would they rather not do?
  5. Why are they volunteering?
  6. What ways do they want to be contacted?
  7. What days and times can they volunteer?
  8. What types of jobs have they had in the past?

I could go on with a few other questions, but I hope you are starting to get the picture here.  Audience development makes volunteering all about the volunteer, not just about what the organization wants and needs.  If you were to place a volunteer in the wrong position, you will lose the volunteer.  If you do not relate to them in ways that are best for them, you will lose them.  If you do not find out why they are volunteering, you will lose a priceless opportunity to figure out their reasons and possibly their goals for helping you.  You might find out that they are volunteering because of a friend, or they are also an artist, or that they want to give back and they chose your organization since it speaks to them.  Getting to know the volunteer and placing them in the right position will make them more comfortable.  Building relationships with your volunteers will also help uncover the passion behind the volunteering.  Once a relationship is built, they are more likely to be put in the first category of this blog, friends and family.  Audience development will bring out the best in your volunteers and get them excited about volunteering again.

Overall, finding volunteers can be a great deal easier if you ask the people that care.  Once you find the people that care and want to volunteer, get to know them as people (not just as your worker for the day).  You will most likely find out that they are special in many ways and that their qualities will be just what you are looking for!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
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“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

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Filed under arts management, Audience Development, Volunteer Management, volunteering