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:
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 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.
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:
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.
There are three core kinds of prospect data your university should collect for each of your alumni:
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:
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:
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
At DonorSearch, we take our technical integration partners very seriously. We knew that we wanted to include a matching gift database in our platform, but we also knew that we had to be absolutely sure that we chose the right provider before creating an integration.
Like every other product decision we’ve made, we wanted to invest time and energy into this process so that we could rest assured knowing we had chosen the best option for our 1,000+ clients plus other integration partners.
Because most of the matching gift database providers offer part or all of their services online, we first compared the capabilities of the public resources, and then reached out to our favorite to learn more about their product and determine if they would be right for us.
In the end, we decided that Double the Donation would be the best provider to meet our needs. To learn more about the qualities we evaluated during our decision, as well as what Double the Donation is and why we picked their database, read on!
What features did we consider?
When deciding between the different matching gift databases, we took into account different attributes that would influence the conversion rate of donors.
One of the most important qualities of a matching gift database is its overall comprehensiveness. How many entries does a database have?
There are three types of entries that a database must have:
Alternate spellings of companies and brands.
Subsidiaries and alternate spellings are important when considering how donors will interact with a search tool. Consider, for example, someone who works for Disney World. They need to be able to find their company’s matching gift policy no matter if they search for:
Walt Disney World.
The Walt Disney Corporation.
The Walt Disney World Resort.
Currency and relevancy.
A database can’t just include companies and their matching gift programs: it has to be reflective of the companies’ most current policies. =&2=&
We took a handful of companies with generous matching gift programs and evaluated which had the most up-to-date forms, links, and contact information for matching gift programs.
Matching gift databases use some of the following strategies to ensure that their information is up-to-date:
Autoscanning their database for dead links and invalid email addresses.
Testing email addresses and phone numbers.
Offering avenues for employers and employees to submit updates
Here we are in a brand new year, and plenty of you have likely made resolutions that you vow to keep in 2018. Whether it’s self-betterment goals or breaking bad habits, a new year is a time of new beginnings, and that goes double for your charity or nonprofit. No matter how successful a year 2017 may have been, there’s always room for improvement and evolution, which is why your nonprofit should have some resolutions as well!
Here are three goals that your nonprofit should be striving for not just this January, but throughout 2018:
Utilize the power of social media
So your nonprofit has a Twitter page and a Facebook profile, and you think that’s enough to get the word out on your cause and communicate with your donors and prospects. In fact, you’re doing the bare minimum with those two accounts – and even less so if you don’t have a frequent, active schedule for updates.
In 2018, make a resolution to dedicate more time to social media, including putting together a comprehensive content calendar, actively monitoring your channels, and engaging with both your current supporters and those you’d like to attract. If you don’t have a dedicated hire to do this, be sure to look for one. A content and/or social media manager can be a huge piece of a successful nonprofit’s marketing team, so perhaps another resolution should be to create and hire for this position!
It’s also important to focus on other platforms, like Instagram, Snapchat, or Pinterest, and seeing how you can use their storytelling abilities to elevate your cause. Plus, there are new social media platforms and mediums coming out all the time – why not get ahead of the curve by trying out new things? Which brings us to our second resolution:
Don’t be afraid to go out of the box
There are tons of worthy charities out there for people to donate money to – how does yours stand out from the pack? If you’re just doing the exact same strategies as everyone else, there’s a good chance that your cause will be lost in the shuffle.
Make 2018 the year that your nonprofit tries something new in terms of marketing. Experiment with new ideas, have weekly brainstorms, and get in touch with different demographics to see how well different targeted ad campaigns perform. You can incorporate new strategies through the social media we discussed earlier, or you could explore new advertising capabilities both digitally and in print.
With so many avenues and creative outlets available to you both now and in the near future, it’d be a shame not to try out some big – even disruptive – ideas to bring your cause message to the masses. It could even bring in a whole new audience of lifelong supporters – the trick is just taking that single step potentially out of your comfort zone.
Keep testing and troubleshooting
All that said, don’t be discouraged if your resolutions aren’t giving you top results right away. Trying out new things really is all about trial and error, and the entire process ought to be marked with check-ins and testing along the way. (If you haven’t already set out measurable benchmarks for where you’ve started and what you want to achieve out of these efforts, now is definitely the time!)
For example, are you taking the time to troubleshoot digital assets like your website or online donation form? There could be simple errors that may be hidden pain points preventing you from gathering more donations. Or maybe you need to frequently check the open rate on that revamped round of email drips that you’re sending to prospects.
For all the work you’re putting into trying new things – be it on social media or otherwise – you also need to be following up, testing, and troubleshooting to ensure that you’re getting the biggest bang for your efforts. So in 2018, make a concentrated resolution to not just sit back on your laurels once you’ve launched a new online campaign or donor website – keep checking to see that it’s working at its optimal rate.
Feel free to use the above three resolutions as a starting point for your charity’s own resolutions for 2018 – much like an individual’s own personal life goals, a nonprofit ought to constantly be looking for ways to refine good habits, break bad habits, and try new things!
Caitlin Hotchkiss is the content and social media manager for FrontStream, covering all the best and latest news and tips for fundraising success. With many years as an online influencer, she works to stay ahead of the trends by keeping one eye on upcoming online tools and the other on established favorites, spreading the good word of charities and nonprofits across the digital landscape.
This blog was adapted from the recent Flash Class by NeonCRM and Nonprofit Garden, partners of DonorSearch.
One of the more frustrating situations that can occur when rolling out a major campaign is having different departments articulate different messages to donors. The marketing team may be focusing on highlighting stories about a specific program while your major gift officers are reaching out and telling a story around an unrelated capital campaign.
Being able to create a cohesive end to end campaign is the key to success to long term growth and sustainability, since it ensures not only are all stakeholders working towards a common goal but also utilizing the same messaging to create a powerful unified conversation with your donors.
Yet how does one go about creating a full circle strategy that envelopes all stakeholders? Let’s take the time and present a few key strategies when it comes to operating as a nimble nonprofit. As a starting point, we’ll tackle traditional fundraising, web design, and social media coordination to create a cohesive campaign for any size organization.
Many nonprofits miss some critical steps when preparing for either an annual campaign or a major expansion of services that need to be funded through donations. There needs to be a solid foundation that is established before any revenue initiative is started and there’s six steps that we have identified on where to begin:
Set the foundation – review last year’s campaigns and use that data to set a benchmark
Create an action plan – identify key team members, budgets, and timelines that need to be involved through the entire campaign, not just the beginning and end
Put it into focus – create a donor focused theme that ties all messaging together
Know your audience – segment your lists, with giving data being used as a starting point
Craft the ask – dust off those mail merge skills and make it personal
Follow through – it isn’t just about obtaining the gift but about long term relationship building
One of the most popular ways for nonprofits to raise money these days is through crowdfunding. With these social fundraising campaigns, organizations like yours can tap into the giving power of your supporters’ personal networks and spread your campaign far and wide over the internet.In a crowdfunding campaign, nonprofits launch short-term fundraisers and call on many supporters to donate small amounts so they can quickly reach their goal. Crowdfunding thrives on social media sites like Facebook because it’s easy for campaigns to spread to a large audience in just a few shares.
Check out our favorite ways to make your crowdfunding efforts stand out on social media:
1. Choose the right platform for your crowdfunding campaign
Getting your crowdfunding campaign right depends upon choosing the right platform for your fundraiser. Successful social media fundraising is already dependent on having accessible giving pages ready for your supporters, and this becomes even more crucial when your crowdfunding campaign comes into the mix.
The more your crowdfunding page aligns with your social media identify, the more likely it is donors will give to your campaign. This means your crowdfunding page should feature:
Your nonprofit’s logo
Your branded color scheme
Photos and videos of your community at work
Additionally, the perfect crowdfunding platform will also let your nonprofit offer fundraising incentives and donation levels, as these features can incentivize your donors to give. Providing perks can also lead to a larger social media presence. Think about: if you offer supporters a t-shirt in return for their donation, they can share pictures of them wearing your appear to their social networks, which can draw even more awareness to your campaign.
Your crowdfunding platform should offer:
Automated social share buttons that prompt donors to spread the word after they give
Thank-you pages that appear after a donation is made that are customized to your campaign
Branded hashtags that are unique to your crowdfunding campaign
Since successful crowdfunding campaigns need to be far reaching, your platform should make it as easy as possible for supporters to see your message.
=&5=& Ready to find the right crowdfunding platform for your nonprofit? Check out Double the Donation’s list of the top crowdfunding websites to find the one that’s right for your organization.
2. Make giving to your crowdfunding campaign easy for mobile donors
Since nearly 80% of all social media activity happens on smartphones, you want your crowdfunding campaign to be easily accessed on mobile devices.