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How to Find Donors for a Nonprofit




There is a lot of work going into fundraising for a nonprofit, whether you consistently work on behalf of the organization or you’re working on a particular project or event. From doing online research to find people to actually convincing them to donate their time, money, or anything else, it’s not easy work. 

With that in mind, below are tips to help you find donors for a nonprofit, especially if you’re starting from scratch. 

1. Start with Existing Supporters

The easiest place to go when you need to find donors for anything is your current base of supporters. 

Leverage not just current donors but also volunteers and board members because these are the people who will ultimately be the strongest supporters. They already have a personal investment in seeing the organization or cause succeed. 

From there, ask these supporters to talk to their friends and family members. You can incentivize current supporters to take action in some way, such as offering them swag representing the nonprofit. 

2. Go to Social Media

Don’t underestimate the power of social media from a nonprofit standpoint. Build a strong presence on sites where your targeted donors are most likely to be spending their time. For example, maybe you focus your time on cultivating a presence on Instagram. 

Don’t try to focus on too many platforms because it gets overwhelming. 

As a traditional marketer would, start with a profile of your targeted donor. In marketing, this would be a customer persona, but you can tailor this to the person that you see is most likely to connect with your organization and the cause behind it and take action through a donation. 

Once you have a good idea of who you’re targeting, begin to build your social media marketing around who you envision them to be. 

You can create a posting schedule and actively engage with your followers by commenting on posts they make about your organization and tagging them in relevant photos and videos. Make sure you’re also answering any questions they have on social media and keeping conversations active. 

A good way to attract the attention of possible donors is to make a personal connection as much as possible on social media. For example, go back to the example of Instagram, if this is the platform you decide to focus on, put a face to everything you’re doing. 

You can share staff and volunteer profiles or stories of people who benefit from your nonprofit. Get creative and use video content when possible because audiences tend to find this to be the most compelling format.  

3. Look at Donors to Other Organizations

If you can get access to the donor recognition lists, annual reports or newsletters, or organizations that are similar to your own or could be perhaps seen as related in some way, do so. 

You can take a look at these lists to see where you might have opportunities to also develop a relationship with that donor. It could be that someone on your board or staff already knows some of the people that are on the lists of other organizations. 

As part of this concept, you can also work on building strategic partnerships. Are there community organizations or businesses that you could partner with to build a mutually beneficial relationship? This could mean that you gain access to their customers or people involved with the organization, or you might even receive direct donations from the organization itself. 

4. Research

When you’re looking for new donors, take the time to do prospect research. You can start with your current database of donors and pair this with external resources. You’re working on identifying warm donors who have shown a potential interest, and maybe these are people who have already made a smaller donation, but you’d like the nurture them with the goal of getting a larger donation. 

This can be called major donor strategy, and major donors are often those people you should focus a lot of your efforts on because they can make an immediate decision. When there’s no committee that plays a role or even paperwork to deal with, it can mean a fast donation that quickly fills a gap. If you have a specific project you’re working on, major donors are especially beneficial. 

If you’re seeking out major donors, never make an assumption about someone’s ability to give. When you have a list of prospects, treat everyone like they have the ability to make a major donation. You might be surprised, and with donations, you have to realize that a lot of people don’t give based on how much money they have. 

Instead, they give based on how they perceive the value of the organization you’re fundraising on behalf of. That means you need to sell the mission and values of your organization rather than thinking about how much money donors might or might not have. 

5. Get to Know Your Donors

When you develop a relationship with a donor, it’s like a business that’s in the phase of focusing on customer loyalty. In traditional marketing, you’ll always hear that a loyal, repeat customer has more value to a business than always trying to chase new ones. Chasing new customers can end up in disappointment and can be expensive. Loyal customers, when you focus on cultivating relationships, can keep providing value over and over again. 

The same holds true in nonprofit marketing. 

If you have major donors or people that you feel have the potential to be, get to know them one-on-one. Invite them to coffee or do something they’re comfortable with when you’re in a more personal situation. 

6. Be Involved in the Community

Finally, be active in the community. You don’t have to sit in an office by the phone all day, nor should you. 

Be someone who’s always participating in community events even when they don’t directly involve your nonprofit because this is how you’re going to build connections and a network.

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