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How to attract new donors: 11 essential strategies

March 23, 2022
This nonprofit volunteer accepts a donation from a newly attracted donor.

New donors carry renewed energy and increased support to your nonprofit organization’s growth. Investing in a solid donor acquisition plan ensures that your nonprofit is always on the lookout for untapped potential support.

Take stock of your resources and figure out your priorities, then start building a comprehensive acquisition plan that will guide you to success. To get started, take a look at these 11 effective strategies for bringing new donors to your organization:

1. Map out existing relationships

Your existing donors, board members, and volunteers have extensive personal and professional networks that provide great potential for discovering new donors. Send out questionnaires to explore these connections by asking for information such as:

  • Have you ever brought a guest to a fundraising or volunteer event?
  • What professional groups or clubs do you belong to?
  • Where do you work?

Take cultivating your nonprofit’s relationships one step further by funneling these efforts into your donor acquisition plan. Good donor stewardship will give an added boost to your reputation in the eyes of prospects.

2. Conduct prospect research

To maximize efficiency and results, research your donor prospects. Consider relevant factors, such as donation history, wealth markers, and business affiliations to strategize your outreach.

Refer to these three essential criteria as you identify prospective donors:

  • Access. Does your nonprofit have an existing connection to this person? For instance, are they acquainted with one of your board members, or do they regularly interact with one of your volunteers on social media?
  • Belief. Does this person’s past experiences and current values indicate that they’ll support your cause? Look at their political contributions and past involvement with charitable organizations to get an idea of their affinity to your cause.
  • Capacity. Is this person financially capable of becoming a donor? Wealth markers such as business affiliations or real estate ownership will give you a sense of whether a potential supporter has the financial resources to contribute to your organization.

Stay up to date with your local community’s news to learn about active community leaders and prominent local businesses. Donor lists in other organizations’ annual reports, artistic playbills, and fundraising event programs can be promising resources for discovering charitable affinities as well.

3. Strategize your outreach

Make the most of your nonprofit’s time and resources by meeting your prospective donors where they already tend to frequent. Find out what social media platforms they use, where they get their news, and what other organizations they support. 

Begin thoughtful and deliberate donor prospect outreach by communicating through channels that are popular with current donors with similar demographics. For instance, younger supporters may prefer to hear about your organization through social media posts or text updates, but older generations may engage more through email or direct mail.

4. Leverage your volunteers

Your volunteers devote their time and energy to your organization. They’re already invested in your purpose, so take the opportunity to invite further engagement.

Send out surveys and ask questions about why they volunteer, where they work, and common interests that they have. Actively communicate your appreciation and include your volunteers in your nonprofit’s fundraising appeals to convert them into donors.

5. Turn your board into advocates

Invite deeper engagement from your board members by sharing more ways for them to get involved in your purpose. Involve them in your fundraising or event planning efforts and urge them to discuss your nonprofit’s impact in conversations with friends and colleagues.

Keep them informed with frequent updates and consistent communication to ensure they have everything they need to advocate for your organization.

6. Launch a peer-to-peer campaign

Empower your most dedicated supporters to reach out to their personal networks and lead fundraising efforts for your organization. Due to the popularity of social media and the convenience of online giving, peer-to-peer fundraising has become a popular and effective way for boosting nonprofit revenue.

Potential donors will feel much more comfortable and enthusiastic about supporting your organization if they’re introduced by a trusted friend, family member, or acquaintance.

7. Host an event

Gather community members together and build awareness for your organization’s purpose by starting a community open house or town hall discussion series. Additionally, you could invite prospects to your office to allow them to see your impact firsthand.

Another flexible and convenient option could be to host a virtual or hybrid event for expanding your reach beyond the local area. These would be ideal opportunities for gathering contact information, encouraging engagement, and getting feedback on your work.

8. Get out in the community

Encourage your staff, volunteers, board members, and current donors to get more involved in community activities and events related to your nonprofit’s purpose. Each stakeholder, meeting one or two people at an event, will lead to a combined increase in your organization’s reach.

To maximize these results, challenge your stakeholders to make five new connections at each event to build out your network.

9. Host cultivation parties

Donor cultivation events are an exciting and engaging way to convince potential donors to get involved in your organization’s purpose. Ask your board members if they’re willing to host house parties for friends and colleagues and use a portion of the evening to share your nonprofit’s impact with the room.

Ask your host to share their personal story about why they support you and encourage their guests to give. Use a guest book or laptop to collect prospects’ contact information and follow up the next day with more ways to get involved.

10. Engage younger generations

To attract more Millennial and Gen Z donors, consider the engagement and communication methods they typically prefer and reach out to them on these platforms. For instance, expand your fundraising efforts to social media and consider implementing text-to-give in your next campaign.

Host casual events like happy hours, book clubs, and other social activities. Compel attendees to support your organization’s purpose by providing relevant information and a call to action. 

11. Maximize corporate partnerships

Corporate partnerships can offer a substantial amount of financial support to your nonprofit. If your corporate partners offer employee matching gift programs, make sure you’re featured in their internal updates.

Additionally, collaborate with like-minded businesses and organizations to expand awareness and trust. When your nonprofit partners with a corporation, remember that this is a mutually beneficial relationship. Don’t forget to align on your goals and find ways to make each engagement as productive as possible.

Attracting and retaining your donors

No matter your staff or budget size, investing time and resources in regular donor acquisition activities is essential to your organization’s success. Incorporate these ideas into your donor acquisition campaign to get donors for your nonprofit and create an engaging donor experience from the very beginning.

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    Donor Engagement
  • Nonprofits
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