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How to Find New Donors

fundraising individual giving relationship building Sep 19, 2022

      It’s getting harder and harder to garner the resources you need to run your nonprofit and meet the needs of the people you serve. According to the National Council of Nonprofits, the top two issues facing American charitable organizations are limited resources and increased demands stemming from an increase in unmet needs in the community. You already know this.  It’s getting more and more difficult to keep up. How do you get ahead of the curve?

      Donor acquisition. Especially individual donors, who give approximately 80 percent of total charitable giving.

      But how do you attract them?

Fulfill Individual Donor Motivations

     According to the 2016 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, individual donors give for many possible reasons: they believe in the mission of the organization; they believe their gift can make a difference; they experience personal satisfaction, enjoyment, or fulfillment from making the donation; a habit of supporting the same causes annually; they want to give back to the community; and adherence to religious beliefs. According to Network for Good, the number one reason why donors stop giving is that they don’t know how their gift is being used. Donors want to positively impact issues they care about and know they made a difference in.

     Which means that to tap into their motivations, you don’t talk about your agency or its programs. Instead, you focus on the changes they will make in improving the human condition through their donations. It is not the money or the organization that is important to donors. Their goal is to increase mission fulfillment. So, help them reach that goal.

Target Specific Donor Groups

      For best results, target specific potential donor groups. You do this by defining the characteristics you are looking for in your ideal donor. Of course, you target people who have the means and propensity to give. In addition, another way to profile them is by the values they hold and the communication channels they prefer. One method of identifying these values is by studying your highest donor’s lifetime values and base your ideal donor profile on them.

      You target specific groups rather than everyone so that you ensure your message resonates with those most likely to give and resources are used where they produce the highest results. Casting a small net where you find more people likely to give yields better returns than casting a large net where you find a lot of people but don’t know their propensity to give. Your aim is to talk to and develop a relationship with the potential donors belonging to the groups you have identified as the most likely to give, especially big gifts.

Generating Leads through Your Website

     Your website should target specific groups, just like any other communication channel. And one of those groups is your potential donors. If you have done your homework, you know exactly who you are trying to reach. In turn, then, you know who to target your messages toward.

      You use those same basic messages in your direct mail and social media acquisition campaigns. Design specific campaigns for this effort. And use them to obtain email addresses and drive traffic to your website so that you can grow your email list. Once people’s names are on your email list, you can build deeper relationships with them and send them even more targeted information, culminating in a call to action. Once a solid relationship is built, your call to action can be a request for a donation.

     Once people get to your website, you want them to leave their names. The theory is that if a person is interested in your website, there is probably an interest in your cause. Encourage them to leave their name by offering something on your website for free in exchange for their email. You can use your key stakeholder feedback to inform your choice of freebie.

Generating Leads Using Social Media

     For your social media campaigns to be effective, posts must be regular, frequent, and interesting. You need to be frequent to be remembered. You need to be interesting to capture people’s attention. Short videos and pictures with captions capture the most attention. 

     Use different types of social media posts to create awareness and engage prospects. For example:

  • Tag people involved with your nonprofit.
  • Post short success stories around your nonprofit’s mission.
  • Spotlight your volunteers, donors, and board members.
  • Use infographics to make a point.
  • Conduct surveys.
  • Use your grant needs assessments to create myth buster posts
  • Help people get to know your organization by sharing an historical fact or milestone
  • Make pre-event announcements and post event thank-you messages and results
  • If you have built a relationship, make an appeal for donations

     The list is endless. Be creative. Just be brief, concise, and generate interest. Make the content interactive. Respond to people who comment. Track what posts give you the most likes and comments and do more posts like them. You are part of a huge community conversation, building a relationship with an online community rather than an individual.

Generating Leads through Cultivation Events

     You can also engage potential donors through cultivation events, such as house parties, coffee get-togethers, or other private group meetings. To run a successful cultivation event:

  1. Target who you want to reach.
  2. Design the type of event you want to hold. Use your stakeholder feedback to brainstorm your choices.
  3. Find a host for the event. This should not be you, the executive director. It should be a peer of the people you want to invite.
  4. Find a time that works for your host and is convenient for your target group.
  5. Find a location. Again, let your stakeholder feedback inform your choices.
  6. Send the invitation—under the name of the host, not you, the executive director.
  7. Plan the agenda. Make it mission related and do not include an ask. Your goal is to connect and get a better understanding of one another.
  8. Hold the event.
  9. Follow up with attendees.

     The follow-up is important because that is when you can really start building strong one-on-one relationships and engage the potential donor even more with your nonprofit. Once you have an established relationship, you can ask for a gift.

Wrapping It Up

     Individual donors give approximately 80 percent of total charitable giving. Resources are limited. At the same time, demand for services is increasing. To attract individuals to give to your cause, fulfill their desires. For the greatest return on your investment, target specific groups instead of trying to reach the whole community. Use your website and social media campaigns to generate leads. Hold cultivation events to introduce people to your nonprofit and its work. 

Next Steps

     Of course, you probably want more than individual donors. You likely yearn for business and foundation donors, too. Learn about finding new corporate, foundation, and government donors in my new book The ROI Mindset: How to Raise More Money with the Budget You Have. Check it out today!

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