Connecting with new donors is crucial to growing your nonprofit’s supporter base and ultimately raising more for your cause. New donors invigorate your nonprofit with a fresh wave of funding and engagement. And, when you properly steward and build relationships with these new donors, they can turn into lifelong supporters of your mission.
But you have to find and connect with these individuals first. In this guide, we’ll cover 10 strategies for finding and engaging new donors.
1. Leverage your existing supporter base.
Your board members, volunteers, and current donors are some of the strongest advocates for your cause because they’re already invested in seeing your mission succeed. Ask them to spread the word about your organization amongst their family members and friends. Offer incentives to encourage supporters to do this. For example, offer a free branded t-shirt to volunteers who bring a friend to a volunteer opportunity, or to donors who invite a loved one to a fundraising event.
2. Invite prospective donors to getting-to-know-you events.
These events can be tours of your facilities, panels with guest speakers, or informal meet-and-greets. These events should offer information about your organization and its mission, services, goals, and ways to get involved. Send follow-up emails to those who attend these events to find out what they thought about the event and introduce them to additional engagement opportunities.
3. Use social media.
Build up your presence on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Don’t overwhelm yourself with having to manage and pay attention to too many networks at a time. Instead, be strategic: Profile your ideal donor and then determine their preferred social networks. Create a posting schedule and have your board, volunteers, and staff share your posts with their followers. Actively engage with followers by answering their questions, tagging them in photos and videos, and commenting on and resharing posts they make about your organization.
4. Compile a list of prospects based on donors to other organizations.
Look at the annual reports, donor recognition lists, and newsletters of similar organizations and compile a list of their donors. Ask board and staff members if they happen to know anyone on these lists. If so, ask them to share information about your organization and invite this individual to attend one of your events or sign up for your newsletter.
5. Conduct prospect research.
Prospect research is an effective strategy to help you connect with new major donors. Use your internal donor database and external resources to identify prospective donors who exhibit warmth toward your organization and the capacity to contribute a larger donation. Search for those who exhibit both wealth indicators (real estate and stock ownership, large previous charitable gifts, etc.) and philanthropic indicators (previous donations to your organization or similar nonprofits, a history of political giving, etc.).
6. Build strategic partnerships with other organizations.
Corporate partnerships and partnerships with other community organizations, like associations or civic clubs, can benefit your organization in multiple ways. You can potentially receive direct donations, in-kind donations, matching gifts, volunteer grants, and other forms of fundraising support from these organizations. You can also engage with the individuals involved in these groups — the employees, members, etc. — recruiting them to become individual supporters of your cause. Ask your partners to spread the word about your mission, or engage with these prospects directly at your events and volunteer opportunities.
7. Reach out to one-time and lapsed donors.
Your one-time and lapsed donors may still be interested in giving to your organization, but perhaps you’ve fallen off their radar or they don’t know the best way to engage with you on an ongoing basis. Reach out to these donors with a variety of ways to continue their involvement, such as your monthly giving program, peer-to-peer fundraising opportunities, or upcoming fundraising events. Be sure to thank these donors for their past contributions and specifically mention their donation amounts and impact to show them the value they’ve already added to your organization.
8. Build your email list.
Focus on collecting email addresses during community events and volunteer opportunities and using your social media channels. Create a welcome series for new subscribers that introduces your organization’s mission, describes your impact on the community, and offers engagement opportunities.
9. Optimize your website.
Statistics show that half of all nonprofit website traffic comes from mobile devices, so your site must be mobile-friendly to engage new and current supporters alike. Also, use your website to entice visitors with a “pop-up” offering free information and resources. Send interested individuals a welcome email and relevant informational emails over several weeks. Finally, make sure your online donation form is easy to find and fill out. Use a variety of call-to-action buttons and links on your homepage to draw visitors to the page. Then, ensure the form only asks for necessary information, such as names, contact information, and payment information, to make it as convenient as possible to complete.
10. Treat volunteers as potential donors.
42% of volunteers participate in a volunteer program before deciding to donate to an organization. This shows that volunteering can be a way for potential supporters to learn more about your cause and determine whether they want to support you financially as well as through volunteer work. That’s why you should take extra care to steward your nonprofit’s volunteers by showing them gratitude.
Use a combination of these engagement strategies to ensure you’re reaching a wide variety of new donors across your numerous communication platforms.
Once you find new donors for your nonprofit, your stewardship strategy should immediately kick in. Send personalized thank-you messages, show donors the impact of their gifts, and invite them to engage in additional activities your organization offers, like volunteer events or peer-to-peer fundraising challenges.
With these strategies, you can transform your new donors into long-term supporters. Then, these supporters can recruit other new donors by sharing their fulfilling experiences, and the cycle begins again.
For more information on finding new donors and stewarding them effectively, check out these additional resources:
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.