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By donorsearch

Prospect Generators: 4 Essential Tips to Find New Donors

As you begin the prospect research and development process, you might find yourself becoming overwhelmed both with the possibilities and the magnitude of the task at hand. Although it’s never easy work, there are a number of effective prospect development strategies you can follow to ensure the success of your major campaigns. One core strategy is to use a prospect generator when building your initial prospect list.  Prospect generators can be invaluable tools for your nonprofit’s donor prospecting process. By both saving you time and streamlining prospect identification, a generator tool can help drive your campaigns to unprecedented levels of success. If you think that a prospect generator tool might be a good idea for your organization, check out these 4 essential tips for choosing and using one:
  1. Identify a prospect generator tool that suits your needs.
  2. Set specific goals for your prospect generator.
  3. Recognize your most valuable data.
  4. Craft a solicitation plan.
Prospect generators are often the most important element of a successful development strategy. Read on for some crucial insights on how these tools can benefit your organization’s next major campaign!  

1. Identify a prospect generator tool that suits your needs.

To find new prospective donors, nonprofit organizations will typically look toward charitable giving databases to identify prospects with proven potential and interest in supporting their cause. A number of useful databases exist to serve this need, some providing more comprehensive information than others. DonorSearch’s databases cover a full range of philanthropic, wealth, political contribution, and professional statistics that can give you a full view of each prospect as an individual, for instance. However, all this prospect data can easily become overwhelming without the proper tools to for sorting and ordering it. That’s where a prospect generator tool can help. Any good prospect generator tool features the ability to search the donor lists of other nonprofits, helping you to identify proven high-value prospects that already support your issues or causes. Check out DonorSearch’s prospect generator tool for an example of what this kind of information might look like: A great prospect generator tool will contain any number of additional features, like:
  • Search functions to find proven donors by distance or zip code
  • Research capabilities on the complete fundraising strategies of other organizations
  • Detailed information on individual donations and nonprofits
  • Export tools to complement your full research process
Imagine how you could streamline your prospect research and development process with access to this kind of information. Best of all, with a prospect generator tool all this data will be organized and searchable, maximizing the efficiency of your entire prospect identification process. When choosing a generator tool for your prospect research and development process, always look for the functions listed above. Depending on the exact scope of your capital campaign or other major project, you might find yourself needing access to more data and functionality than you initially assumed. When it comes to prospect research, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Find a prospect generator that can cover all your potential needs.  

2. Set specific goals for your prospect generator.

While the purpose of a prospect generator tool is to help you identify and organize tons of prospect data, it’s rarely a good idea to jump into prospect research without any preliminary guidelines or targets. It’s crucial that for every major campaign, you use your prospect generator tool to create a specific and strategic game-plan. The unique goals of your campaign should shape both your overall campaign strategy and the more specific ways that you target and refine your prospect list. A fundraising feasibility study can provide your organization with a clear and realistic vision of your campaign’s parameters, budget, goals, and ideal techniques. All of this information will be important to the ways that you’ll use your prospect generator tool to develop a prospect list. Next, use the results of your feasibility study to answer some crucial questions about your prospect development:
  • How many current major donors can I count on for this project?
  • How many new major donors will I need to attract?
  • What range of giving will help me most efficiently reach my funding goal?
  • What kind of time constraints are there on my donor prospecting process?
  • Which of my donors or prospects will be interested in this specific campaign?
Now, let the answers to these questions guide the ways that you use your prospect generator tool to build and refine your prospect list. As with any significant challenge, setting specific goals for your prospect research and development is key to starting off on the right foot. A great prospect list can become an invaluable road map for your campaign by clearly designating your most important targets and key back-ups. By fully understanding both what kind of prospects you’ll need and also what you’ll need from those prospects, you can ensure that you’ll make the most effective use of your prospect generator tool and hit your targets quickly.  

3. Recognize your most valuable data.

Knowing exactly what you’re looking for is pretty much essential to ever finding it, right? The same applies to your prospect research and how you’ll need to use your prospect generator. The nuances of your goals and the unique elements of your campaign will completely determine which specific data points will be the most useful to your prospect development process. Check out our ultimate guide to prospect research if you need some direction about how exactly you can better refine your targets and goals to make the smartest prospecting decisions. Remember that a great prospect generator and access to comprehensive prospect databases will provide you with a wealth of data points, including:
  • Prospect location and property records
  • Complete giving history
  • Details about the organizations the prospect has supported
  • Political contribution history and details
Fully understanding your own campaign goals will help you to better understand the exact kinds of prospects you need to target, which in turn will guide your entire research process. Since a prospect generator will grant you access to plenty of data, it’s essential that your organization take full advantage of the opportunities this presents without becoming overwhelmed with possibilities. Do this by using your generator tools to identify prospects whose demonstrated interests align with your own campaign and fundraising histories. The alignment of prospect interest and your own nonprofit’s history will be reflected in a specific data point or two. Identify these most valuable metrics, use them to filter your results in your prospect generator and search tools, then quickly build an effective prospect list.  

4. Craft a solicitation plan.

Once you’ve used your prospect generator to identify and filter your prospects, it’s crucial that you develop some effective solicitation strategies. You already used your data to find learn more about your prospects as individuals, so your solicitation plans should be equally individualized, too. There are a number of donor and prospect communication tools out there, which, in combination with your strong prospect data resources, can pinpoint your solicitation efforts like never before. By using your prospect data and knowledge of other organizations your prospect has supported, you can make some inferences about the most convenient ways to communicate with them. Always try to tailor your solicitation plan to the individual prospect. There are a number of ways that a prospect would likely prefer to be contacted, like:
  • Through email
  • Through a personal appeal letter
  • In-person at an event
  • In a private meeting
It’s important that you never take a one-size-fits-all approach to your solicitation strategies. For instance, you might know that one of your core prospects is a corporate executive who supports another organization that regularly hosts large fundraising auctions. A busy executive might be unlikely to respond to every email or voicemail, but you might be able to contact them in-person at the next charity auction and set up a meeting in the future. Alternately, a retiree philanthropist might love the opportunity to share a dialogue on email or over the phone prior to discussing specifics, while the director of a grant-giving foundation prefers to be contacted through official application channels. Initiating a donation conversation with a new prospect for the first time can be difficult, but with the wealth of information provided by a prospect generator and other databases, you can craft the most effective solicitation plan possible. A prospect generator tool is perhaps the smartest investment you can make in your organization’s fundraising abilities.  Targeting your research and building refined prospect lists early in the process allows you to save invaluable time and resources throughout your entire campaign. Prospect databases and generators are an essential component of streamlining your donor prospecting process and reaching new levels of success in your fundraising! Check out these additional resources for more information on capital campaigns and the value of effective prospect research: Our top 5 Steps to Building a Prospect List for Your Next Capital Campaign. With or without a prospect generator, it’s essential that you build an effective prospect list for every campaign. The Top 3 Political Contributions Search Tools from Double the Donation.

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By donorsearch

How to Engage Alumni Effectively | 4 Key Best Practices

If there’s one golden rule of university fundraising, it’s that the key to effectively engaging alumni supporters is making meaningful connections with them year after year. No matter how long it’s been since graduation, your school always wants to remain a part of your alumni’s lives (and be first on their list when making a charitable gift). What’s one way to forge a long-lasting relationship with members of your alumni community? Prospect research is the practice of collecting and analyzing alumni data to better know your community of prospective donors. =&0=& If your school can learn more about trends in your alumni community, there’s nothing stopping your team from translating that information into a more effective alumni engagement strategy! Discover some of our favorite prospect research best practices that your school should start using:
  1. Maintain meaningful prospect profiles for your alumni.
  2. Clean your alumni prospect profiles regularly.
  3. Leverage your alumni engagement survey to improve prospect research.
  4. Use alumni prospect research to plan more impactful fundraising events.
Are you ready to revamp how your college connects with key alumni prospects? Let’s dive into these data-driven engagement strategies to get started!

1. Maintain meaningful prospect profiles for your alumni.

When an organization conducts prospect research, they gather all kinds of data in order to better understand their constituency. Whether you’re leveraging it to the fullest or not, it’s likely that your school already keeps alumni data in a CRM. =&1=& There are three core kinds of prospect data your university should collect for each of your alumni: =&2=&

By donorsearch

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaigns: 4 Key Strategies for Nonprofits

Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns have become an extremely popular option for nonprofits in the social networking age. By allowing the most dedicated supporters of your nonprofit the opportunity to create individual mini fundraising pages, they raise money and promote your cause on your behalf! For the savvy organization, peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns represent an incredible opportunity to engage their supporters and community like never before while at the same time reaching their fundraising goals quickly. One of the greatest benefits of this kind of campaign is that they relieve a great deal of the day-to-day operational stresses of a traditional fundraiser, instead allowing you to more focus more fully on the direction and strategy of the campaign as a whole. When launching a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, overarching strategy and communications should always be a consideration. These kinds of campaigns can occasionally do fine on their own, spreading through the relatively small social media circles of your supporters, but for the greatest outcome, they need some conscious outside direction. Each of these peer-to-peer fundraising strategies represents a key aspect of your campaign that needs conscious planning and careful forethought:
  1. Plan your campaign around your timeframe.
  2. Focus your communication while offering new outlets.
  3. Host creative campaign engagement events.
  4. Always remember your campaign’s core purpose.
Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns can be an ideal solution for the nonprofit with a focused vision and a desire to engage donors in new ways. By remembering these core strategies, you can easily build a creative and unique peer-to-peer campaign that will take your organization’s fundraising to the next level!  

1. Plan your campaign around your timeframe.

If your organization has ever conducted a crowdfunding campaign, you know that deadlines and required levels of raised funds tend to be the norm for those kinds of platforms. Peer-to-peer fundraising platforms, on the other hand, tend to be much more adaptable. It’s very important, then, that before you officially launch your peer-to-peer campaign, you carefully consider the timeframe you’d like your campaign to follow. As with any fundraising campaign, but particularly with peer-to-peer campaigns that must keep their participants more actively engaged, timeframe can dictate quite a lot about the campaign’s tone and intensity. Consider all of your options and then choose the strategies most relevant to the campaign’s timeframe. That’s the first step to a successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

How to put this peer-t0-peer fundraising strategy into action

What are your campaign’s exact goals? Are you looking to raise funds for a specific project or cause? Are you trying to grow your general base of support? Both time-based and rolling peer-to-peer strategies are useful to specific kinds of fundraising goals:
  • Time-based, supplementary peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns are used to support very specific projects or events with a clear deadline. The sense of urgency will generate energy, encouraging your supporters to get involved, spread the word, host pages, and donate. These campaigns can generate a lot of interest quickly.
  • Standalone peer-to-peer campaign strategies have longer timeframes and more generalized project goals. Use these campaigns to more generally support your overarching fundraising projects. These campaigns are perfect for reaching new donors, especially for cause-based or advocacy organizations.
Many organizations assume that newer fundraising methods like peer-to-peer or crowdfunding are only effective for higher profile, time-based campaigns, but they can be easily adapted to fit whatever your fundraising needs might be. Online tools and platforms are flexible and meant to be used creatively. Consider what kind of timeframe is best suited to your peer-to-peer campaign’s goals, and then think of creative ways to best make use of your platform within that timeframe. Remembering to never take these aspects for granted is the key to building a truly creative and engaging peer-to-peer fundraising strategy.  

2. Focus your communication while offering new outlets.

Just as you should never arbitrarily choose or take the timeframe of your campaign for granted, your communication strategy must be consciously planned for your peer-to-peer campaign as with any other kind of fundraising campaign. A peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, however, offers unique communication challenges and opportunities.  It’s important for any organization to have simple and streamlined custom donation forms and donation pages on its website, but especially so for a peer-to-peer campaign. With rapidly increased exposure on social media, it’s crucial that your website look its best for the increased traffic. It’s equally important that your message and tone be unified across all your content since donors will see your campaign or reach you through a number of platforms or social media outlets. This broadening of your audience represents a great opportunity to better engage your all your supporters.

How to put this peer-to-peer fundraising strategy into action

Peer-to-peer campaigns require your message to be focused and persuasive. Social media, despite its huge audiences, doesn’t often encourage much engagement in its users beyond skimming text and images. Your message, its words and its images, must be carefully chosen to quickly convey the purpose, goals, and scope of your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign in an eye-catching way. Aside from your organization’s official message, your supporters are then free to supply their own direction and content to their individual fundraising pages. This is an incredible engagement opportunity! Consider some different ways that all of your supporters can communicate with each other and potential donors, generating buzz and discussing your work:
  • Key supporters could contribute their own content to their peer-to-peer pages to show others why they support your organization.
  • Your organization could supply creative templates for supporters to begin the process of reaching out to new donors and expanding your network.
  • Your organization and supporters could work together to create a new viral video challenge to spread through your supporters’ networks and direct viewers to their peer-to-peer pages.
Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns are special for the way that they encourage communication between all levels of your organization and support. Always remember to include your supporters and peer-to-peer page hosts in your campaign communication strategies to maximize the unique impact of this kind of campaign. While your central campaign message must be unified and clear, use your network to more broadly communicate with your potential donors in creative new ways.  

3. Host creative campaign engagement events.

The ability to engage with your supporters in new ways is one of the greatest benefits of peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns. In addition to directly involving your most dedicated supporters in the fundraising process, peer-to-peer campaigns offer great opportunities to integrate other types of live fundraising events. This can amplify the donor engagement on both ends, at your live events and on your peer-to-peer pages, increasing your exposure and donations. Before you launch your peer-to-peer campaign, consider what kind of live fundraising events would be well-suited to complement its goals and tone. Over the course of your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, host several live events; these can serve as checkpoints for the campaign as a whole and keep your supporters excited and engaged.

How to put this peer-to-peer fundraising strategy into action

Consider the different kinds of live fundraising events your organization has hosted in the past. How might elements of your peer-to-peer campaign augment or blend easily with these events? Here’s an example: Say a university is looking to fund some new growth and has hosted galas and charity auctions for alumni in the past. With a peer-to-peer campaign, dedicated alumni can raise funds on the university’s behalf, and then, at another special event, the fundraising committee awards prizes to its highest fundraising volunteers. By making use of the pre-existing connections, this combination of peer-to-peer fundraising campaign and traditional fundraising event could be quite successful. Of course this applies to any organization or project, not just university fundraising. You can easily integrate peer-to-peer campaign elements into any of your fundraising events, like:
  • Holiday parties
  • Dinners or game nights
  • Galas and auctions
  • Merchandise or food sales
One easy way of doing this would be to establish and then promote reward tiers for your most successful volunteer fundraisers. Maybe you could even host a special thank-you event just for these volunteers who host your peer-to-peer pages. The most important thing to remember, though, is to never simply let your peer-to-peer campaign loose on social media and then forget it about it. As a creative networked fundraising format, you should feel free to experiment and combine peer-to-peer fundraising strategies with any of your other successful fundraising events and tools!  

4. Always remember your campaign’s core purpose.

In the example in Strategy #3 above, the university successfully used a peer-to-peer campaign to engage donors because there was a pre-existing network well-suited to carry the campaign’s message. In this situation, the university made use of a natural network to raise awareness and funds. Your organization should likewise consider the specific context of its peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.  The context and scope of your campaign can affect the exact kind of strategies you might wish to pursue. Before launching, always think about these nuances of your campaign.

How to put this peer-to-peer fundraising strategy into action

What are your campaign’s exact goals? What is your organization’s focus? Peer-to-peer campaigns can be great strategies for any organization, but the specific area of your work can affect the kind of fine-tuned methods that will best maximize your campaign’s impact. For instance, your organization might focus on:
  • Cause-based or digital advocacy projects. Eye-catching campaigns and more emotional messages are very well-suited to peer-to-peer social media campaigns. Consider ways to maximize exposure quickly and create a sense of urgency to increase the impact of your campaign.
  • Local, regional, or community-based issues. These campaigns thrive with peer-to-peer strategies because they make use of naturally pre-existing connections. By targeting well-connected local individuals, businesses, or organizations, you can be sure your campaign will be seen those whose community it’s meant to benefit.
That said, forging those kinds of natural partnerships is an excellent idea for any organization’s peer-to-peer campaign. Maybe a local business wants to start and promote its own peer-to-peer page for you, or maybe a company relevant to your campaign would be open to providing its employees a matching gift program for their peer-to-peer donations. Remembering the contexts and nuances of your nonprofit’s work is another key to directing a successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.  As an element often taken for granted, context can make a big impact on your campaign. It defines the ways that supporters think of your organization, and it defines the kind of natural connections that you can most easily form with partners and donors. Bonus tip! If your organization is on the larger side or might have a capital campaign in its near future, these smaller-scale peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns are a great way to start your prospect research

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