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Guest Post by Gretchen Barry, Director of Marketing at NonProfitEasy

Imagine you’re having a birthday party.

You have spent all month planning. The balloons are inflated. The cake is frosted. The piñata is stuffed. The big day finally arrives and no one comes. You forgot to send out the invitations!

Like a party with no guests, a nonprofit without donors won’t succeed.

Donor acquisition is a key component of a thriving nonprofit. Organizations rely on the money they have raised in order to carry out their missions. In 2013, $335.17 billion was donated to US-based charitable causes.

That is a ton of money, and your organization deserves a piece of it. By implementing an effective donor acquisition strategy, you will be well-funded and well on your way to making a difference for your cause.

Follow the tips below to build a strong foundation for the expansion of your community of donors.

1) CURATE AN ACTIVE ONLINE PRESENCE

Curating an active online presence is a great way to promote your nonprofit to prospects while furthering your organization’s relationships with its current donors. To continue the birthday analogy from earlier, online nonprofit promotion is just like generating buzz around an upcoming party.

To better understand internet promotion, let’s breakdown the ways in which an organization can market itself online.

  1. Social Media — When someone follows you on social media, that person typically did so because he wants to know more about your nonprofit. Use your various social media accounts to educate those who are interested in your organization. Make sure you include the important things: your mission, what your organization does, how one can get involved, and how one can donate. Your goal should be to further engage by, for example, getting email addresses.
  2. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) — This option has a few costs attached to it, but it can be well worth the money. By advertising through search engines, like Google, you are raising awareness of your cause and drawing potential donors to your website.
  3. Email — Email campaigns are a great way to keep your organization fresh in the minds of donors by maintaining open lines of communication. Strike a balance between constant contact and aloofness by varying the type of content you send and the frequency with which you send it. Don’t always ask for donations in your emails. Diversify your messages with educational content and updates on the progress your nonprofit has made. When handled correctly, email is a powerful way to acquire donors.

2) OUTLINE HOW FUNDS ARE ALLOCATED 

Just like a party guest wants to know the details of the event he’s attending, a donor wants to know the details of how his money is spent. People donate because they want help your cause, then they want to know how they’ve helped. So give the people what they want, results!

If you detail how funds are implemented, your supporters will be more comfortable in their decision to donate their hard-earned money.

You can make the donation trail transparent using a multitude of methods.

Certainty and specificity are your friends when discussing fund allocation with donors. It isn’t complicated, so just remember that donors need to be able to trust who they are funding and transparency builds trust. Funding clarity will help assuage new donors concerns as they consider aiding your cause.

3) TARGET HIGH-QUALITY DONORS 

High-quality donors are the big gets. They are the people everyone wants to sidle up to at your party.

There are a few ways someone can be a high-quality donor. Repeat donors are invaluable to your organization. Donors who contribute major gifts are also key players.

Major gift donors are typically prior funders. Normally, those who contribute major gifts start out as mid-level donors and increase their giving gradually over time.

All your donors won’t be high-quality. Determining which prospects are potentially major gift donors is the first step in acquiring those donations. There are a few ways to approach this screening.

When investigating prospects ask the following questions:

  • What are the commonalities amongst my regular donors? Does this prospect share those traits?
  • Has this prospect historically given to nonprofits?
  • Does this prospect possess any wealth markers?
  • Has this prospect donated to causes like mine?

If you’re wondering how you find the answers to those questions, have no fear, prospect research is here!

By delving into various information regarding donors and potential donors alike, you’ll be well-equipped to effectively target high-quality donors.

Implement these three tips as you continue with donor acquisition. Keep in mind that acquisition should be personalized. Not every nonprofit can or should take the same approach. However, by having a working knowledge of key acquisition practices, you’ll be situated to take your fundraising to the next level.

Gretchen Barry, Director of Marketing at NonProfitEasy — Gretchen has been a leader in corporate communications and marketing for 20+ years. Gretchen has published numerous articles related to charitable giving and is a passionate advocate for public schools.  Gretchen has donated her time to numerous causes including Relay for Life, Girls on the Run, Rebuilding Together, and just recently became involved with the local land trust.  Gretchen graduated from the University of Nevada with a degree in English literature.

3 Donor Acquisition Tips (Hint: Prospect Research Can Help)