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Where to Find New Donors for a Small Nonprofit

Everyone who raises money for a small nonprofit should be thinking about building a donor base.

Having a large donor family who loves supporting your nonprofit’s work is a dream come true, especially when those folks give in support of the activities in your fundraising plan.

So, where do you find awesome donors who want to give when you ask?

There’s no magic pill you can take that will somehow attract rich people to your cause like moths to a flame.

That would be cool if it were real.

But… there are some proven techniques for finding people who are ideal donor prospects, love your nonprofit’s work, and want to see you succeed.

So, where do you start?

Look for the right people

If you’re like most nonprofit leaders, you have more on your plate than you can say grace over.

And you’re probably using HOPE as a strategy – you hope people will decide to give to your organization. You hope they give big.

You probably already know this but let’s make it clear: Hope is not a strategy.

Growing a donor base requires ongoing, consistent effort. You need your Donor Prospect Radar on all of the time because you never know where you might find a new supporter.

Every time you meet someone, it’s an opportunity to make a new friend for the organization.

First, understand that not everyone will give to your organization, and that’s okay. So, don’t think that everyone should or will give. Some people don’t give to charity (gasp!) and others have their favorites.

Also, you’re not likely to sway someone into giving to your nonprofit instead of another one, so don’t try.

Do this instead: look for people who love your cause but haven’t met you yet.

They love the idea of the work you’re doing, but don’t know your nonprofit is there.

Make sense?

Finding these people is the fastest way to grow your donor base.

Start by creating an Ideal Donor Profile to give you an idea of exactly who you’re looking for.

Ideal Donor Profile

An Ideal Donor Profile identifies the top psychographics and demographics of your best donor so that you can go find more people just like them.

It’s the smartest and fastest way to build your donor base.

Think about it: if you knew a few key details of your best donors, wouldn’t it make donor acquisition a lot easier?

For example, if you knew which radio station your best donors listened to, you could partner with that station on a promotion and easily reach people who would likely support you. You could quickly get in front of ideal prospects without wasting a ton of money or time.

Make sense?

It might seem hard but it’s really not.

Try this: On a blank piece of paper, write down the names of your best donors. Now jot down what they have in common. Think about their age, their sex, their education, and whatever else you can think of. No detail is too small, so write down everything you can think of.

If you can get at least 3-5 things, this will help. More is better.

Don’t get hung up on trying to get this right. Perfection won’t help you here. Just get what you can and you’ll be fine.

When I worked at the food bank, I did this exercise and it was far less than perfect. It was also very unscientific. I just thought about some of our best donors – the ones I knew something about (which wasn’t really that many). Some of them were our biggest donors and some weren’t, but they were consistent in their giving and often sent words of encouragement with their check.

Here’s what I figured out about them:

  • Women
  • Aged 55-70
  • College-educated
  • Attended church services regularly
  • Volunteered in the community

I looked at that list and thought “where can I go find more people just like that?”

It occurred to me that women’s groups at churches might be a place where I could find ideal donors easily and in large numbers.

I started asking around to see who belonged to a women’s group where I could go speak and got several leads. I put together a hot presentation with a clear call to action, and off I went. I remember at one church, almost everyone in the room signed up to hear more about our work and how they could get involved (in other words, they signed up for my newsletter list!). Several ladies handed me a check before I left, and a few days later, I got a check from the group as a whole.

Nice right? And what a great result from a less-than-perfect study of my donors!

Looking for ideal donors this way is much smarter than looking for “rich people” which is how many nonprofits do it.

Don’t go searching for “Rich People”

Many nonprofit folks want to go find the “rich people” in town.

Big mistake.

If you’re looking for rich people, that tells me you care more about the money than the donor, and that is BACKWARD!

If you want to be wildly successful at fundraising and fully fund your budget, you need to value your donors as partners.

It’s like this: the goose is more valuable than the golden eggs she lays.

Get it?

Your donor is valuable for the donation she makes now and all the future ones she’ll make, too.

So, instead of looking for rich people, look for people who LOVE your organization’s mission and want to see you be successful.

They’ll support you more enthusiastically, anyway.

Here’s some truth about “rich people:” Just because people have money doesn’t mean they give it away. And if they do give to charity, they may not give to you. Most people have their favorite causes already. If yours isn’t their favorite cause, your chances of getting a gift aren’t good.

So, chasing “rich people” will likely result in disappointment and frustration.

Be strategic about finding new donors

Let’s review:

  • Look for the right people
  • Not everyone will support your nonprofit so find Ideal Donor Prospects who will
  • Don’t chase “rich people”

In short, be strategic about finding new donors. Start by asking for support from those closest to your organization, then move out from there. You probably already have “insider” donor prospects all around you.

Being strategic about finding new donors can save you a lot of time and trouble and bring you donors who will stick around a long time.

That’s where financial sustainability comes from.

Author: Sandy Rees

Sandy Rees Get Fully Funded

Sandy Rees is the Founder and Chief Encouragement Officer at Get Fully Funded. She shows leaders of small nonprofits how to fully fund their dream so they can make the difference they want to make in the world. She has helped dozens of small nonprofits go from “nickel-and-dime fundraising” to adding 6 figures to their bottom line. As a trainer, she shows her students how to find ideal donors, connect through authentic messaging, and build relationships that stand the test of time, so that fundraising becomes easy and predictable. Find out more at www.GetFullyFunded.com.

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