Need to pivot in a crisis? Lean on volunteer messengers.

In an unpredictable and unprecedented environment, Grinnell College used the Volunteer Management System to efficiently shift their spring outreach strategy.

The Challenge
When Covid-19 hit, Grinnell’s advancement team faced two challenges: supporting the community with emergency funding and pivoting their spring solicitation strategy to match the moment. Grinnell was a leader in sending students off-campus for their safety and diving into remote learning—and the College covered costs for plane tickets, rental cars, computers, internet access, and other critical resources students required for that transition. Grinnell’s advancement team needed to share the right messaging, provide immediate financial relief, and move quickly.
The Solution
Grinnell’s volunteers have long been a bright spot for Grinnell’s fundraising —so much so that as soon as the pandemic arrived, volunteers were already asking for ways to step up and support the Grinnell community. Within 48 hours of deciding to go remote, Grinnell rolled out the Support our Students (SOS) fund. Meanwhile, Grinnell’s advancement team decided to double down on their volunteer strategy for the spring, taking advantage of the GiveCampus Volunteer Management System to get personalized, meaningful messaging out to alumni. They replaced their spring solicitation letter with email templates that volunteers could quickly send out and personalize through the VMS—both to provide a compassionate check-in with alumni and also communicate about the SOS fund.
We decided that our messaging would come across as so much more personal coming from volunteers using the Volunteer Management System than through our bulk email system.
Mary Zug
Assistant Director of Annual Giving, Grinnell College
Building engaged volunteers

Like many schools, Grinnell relied on Google Docs before they transitioned to the Volunteer Management System. Volunteers had to look up information about their assignments in shared Docs and then use their personal email systems for outreach—and as Zug pointed out, there wasn’t much visibility or accountability between volunteers and the advancement office. 

Grinnell has been using the Volunteer Management System since 2017—and it’s become the go-to communications strategy for volunteers. “Before we could even load messages into the Volunteer Management System, our volunteers were using it to send personal messages out about the emergency fund—very soon after we rolled it out, we had gifts totaling more than $100,000. “

Today, 102 seasoned Grinnell volunteers are using the VMS, and 84% of the constituents who made gifts to Grinnell in spring 2020 were assigned in the system. When moments of great need come up, their volunteers are ready to go.


More volunteer emails in Spring 2020 compared to Spring 2019


Emails by volunteers through the VMS from March 1 - June 8

Why Grinnell’s volunteers love the VMS:
Why Grinnell’s advancement team loves the VMS:

Want to learn more about the GiveCampus Volunteer Management System? 
Schedule a demo with our team.