Ten Ways to Find New Donors

The third essay in a series by Dania Toscano Miwa and Jim Toscano

We all want new donors—as many as possible!!!

We all need new donors—as many as possible to replace those who didn’t renew and more.

We all hope for new donors—as many as possible to help us finance new, important projects.

In the last essay we talked about retention. Now we will focuson recruitment.

How then do we go about finding donors?

That often depends on how sophisticated your existing donor program is, how much resource and time you can devote to discovery, cultivation and solicitation, and how many others are willing to help, ranging from Board and volunteers to existing donors themselves and beyond.

Let’s go from the obvious to the highly sophisticated:

1. Organizational culture. As part of the culture, build in the idea that board, staff and volunteers all bring interested family, friends and colleagues to events and other programs representing the exceptional experiences one has with your organization. This creates an initial pool of potential prospects—“suspects.” Board, staff and volunteers then cultivate and solicit the higher level prospects.

2. Double Ask. Employ the “double-ask” in soliciting existing donors. Not only ask for renewal and increases in giving; also ask for names of those they think are potential constituents and their help in cultivating them.

3. Effective Communication. Develop thoughtful communication both on social media and traditional letters and brochures, i.e. stage engaging contests or other interactive posts to push traffic to your website. The organizations homepage should be constantly updated, easily navigated, promoting events, memberships and/or donations.

4. Target Audience. With donor surveys to establish demographic and behavioral data, focus on this segment with similar characteristics through prospect research and cultivate them, using Board, staff and volunteers.

5. Segmentation. Using this same demographic and behavioral data, first segment mailing lists matching this profile, then into separate groups according to their priorities. Address each group with attractive offers and challenges.

6. Sociometry. Encourage your Board, volunteers and long-standing, active members/constituents to host events, gatherings, house parties etc. to gather their closest friends to broaden your organizations outreach and appeal. Use a one-on-one approach in cultivation and solicitation.

7. Unique Access. Create and actuate special, perhaps individualized program access as part of cultivation of high potential prospects. This may be a behind the scenes tour, guided access to the ”vault” in a museum, or the functional equivalent in other groups. The purpose is to make the individual feel special and privileged— an “insider.” Such appropriate actions will vary, but we all can think of one.

8. Volunteers. One of the highest probability groups for annual and planned gifts are existing and potential volunteers in your organization. The old notion that one either volunteers or donates is simply not true. Census data as well as experience in a number of organizations show that volunteers give more than twice the amount of non-volunteers to their favorite charities. What better favorite than the one they volunteer for and are properly and appropriately cultivated?

9.Members. The same can be said for members, most of who feel that their membership fee is a donation, whether it is or not.So their donor hat is already on, and, again, with proper and appropriate stewarding and cultivating, they can emerge as higher-level donors.

10 Authenticity. Above all, make sure all communication is accurate, real and authentic. Have the potential donor know, feel and experience the sincerity of your interest in them, their values and in their achievement. Listen more than speak. This is always the ultimate win-win.

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