How to find more donors for your charity
Diversification = sustainability:
If you can find more donors, you have a broader base providing support for your non-profit, which is more sustainable
Diversifying your income means that you rely less on one source of income and, therefore, create a more stable base
Diversifying your services means that you’re less reliant on one aspect of your work to bring in income – earned or raised
But how do you find more donors and diversify your donor base beyond your current usual suspects?
1. Identify your ideal donor – this might be based on existing donors that you consider to be your ‘perfect donor’ that you would like to have more of OR it could be a different type of donor for your charity. For example, perhaps you raise a huge amount of money from trusts but would like to diversify your donor base by having more donations from high net worth individuals or more corporate sponsorship. Whatever you decide, draw a picture of your ideal donor: what do they do, where do they live, what are their interests outside of work, what is their wealth? Create a profile of your ideal donor and use it to establish what messages will work for this audience and how you are going to reach them. If you decide you want to find more donors who are high net worth individuals, do you have enough people within your existing networks who can introduce those people to your charity?
2. Build Your List – Start close to home. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, to find more donors you should start with those around you: board members, existing donors, volunteers, partners. Who already knows your work and who can they introduce to your organisation? Ask board members for referrals at least once a year and ideally, discuss this at every board meeting. Ask to meet with some of your major donors and strongest supporters to ask who is within their networks that they could introduce to your non-profit. Do you have volunteers who regularly support your work and could they introduce their networks as potential donors to your charity?
Be clear though. I’m not suggesting you ask for a list of potential prospects. You could come up with that yourself. You are asking specifically for referrals – ie who can that person introduce to your organisation? Qualified prospects are the key here. In other words, do they have an affinity with your charity and its work, the capacity to give and, crucially, are they reachable?
Love thy neighbour– often non-profits forget about those who are on their doorstep but are there any high net worth individuals who live in your local area – or originally come from where you are based? If you work in harder to reach communities, you will often find that people who have come from that area but have done well are more than happy to support your work. Are there any charitable trusts in your local area – or are there trustees on trusts who live nearby? Don’t forget to look at other local charities donor lists or theatre programmes to find out who is supporting work in your area. There may be a local affinity that you don’t know about that is the reason behind the gift. Find out.
3. Consider how you will reach new potential donors – in the case of referrals, you will of course, be seeking an introduction from the person who knows you but how can you reach other potential new donors? Think about your communications, events and your profile then draw up a plan to help you to reach more new donors. For example, do you have board members who are willing to host small dinners that you could invite a few local CEOs along to (or trustees or high net worth individuals)? Are you planning a larger event that will boost your profile and which you could use as a ‘hook’ to start a conversation with a potential new donor? What communications do you send out – do you get lots of local or national press coverage that might bring you to the attention of your ideal donor? And of course, don’t forget about social media – who do you already reach, what messages do you send and how do you engage with your online audience? Consider how you can leverage all of this activity to reach new potential donors.
Identification, research and reaching out will all help you to diversify your donor base, reach more new potential donors and, of course, build your profile by reaching a new audience with your message. Successful fundraising programmes are those that balance the identification and engagement of new donors with continued efforts to reach existing donors.
For more advice and ideas about donor research and cultivation, get the eguide Finding Donors, which will help small non-profits to structure prospect research with limited resources, while continuing to steward those existing donors that you already have.
So how can your non-profit find more donors? I’d love to hear your comments or questions.