Salaries are generally the largest cost for a nonprofit. The more paid staff there are, the less funding toward the mission. That is why volunteers are crucial for the continued success of a nonprofit.
A business can pay more salaries by selling more goods and services. Nonprofits usually do not have that capability. They must rely on grants and donations. They need volunteers to keep costs down and to remain attractive for foundations and donors who generally want to fund mission expenses, salaries not included.
Also, grant writers should be careful working with nonprofits who lack volunteers or do not have a program to manage volunteers. Is the grant writer finding money to pay the staff so they have a job or to achieve mission goals?
Also, if a nonprofit has volunteers, why are they volunteering? Is it because they receive benefits from the nonprofit and feel they must “give back”? This enters legal issues a grant writer should be aware of before working with a nonprofit.
When working with a nonprofit, there are several conditions to consider. One of the most critical is their volunteer program. Is there a robust number of volunteers and a program to manage them? Without volunteers, there could be other problems with the nonprofit.
So, I stay away from nonprofits who have few or no volunteers. Every mission requires a certain number of people to succeed. Without volunteers, nonprofits hire staff. The added cost is difficult to justify for funding or ethically.