Tips for the Small Shop: Finding Your People

Seek Opportunities To Expand Your Usual Approaches to Connect With More Donors

In August 2021, I shared a blog post about the opportunities for small fundraising departments to level up by using the same practical tools that bigger organizations use. Today, I will take a deeper dive into the area of donor acquisition and cultivation.

Donor acquisition is connecting people with your nonprofit through outreach or marketing. It is about thoughtfully building relationships. Some activities include:

  • Make It Easy – visitors to your website or social media channels should easily find your donation portal.  If not, you will lose them. Make this important call to action a prominent message on all of your communication tools.

  • SEO – Search Engine Optimization is the driving force to get visitors to your website.  Using keywords and other strategies to put you front and center in the digital space will help people find you. Last month, I shared a blog post about enhancing your digital doorway.

  • Build Your Email List – create a fun or informative download that is available at your website for visitors to access in exchange for their email address.  This is known as a lead magnet and can grow your email list quickly.

  • Transparency – share how donations are used by your nonprofit to make the impact your mission strives to achieve. Always communicate the status and outcome of your campaigns.

  • Understand Your Donors – Create a persona or avatar of who your donor is by identifying demographics, preferences, and interests. Feature donors on social media spotlight posts by highlighting their reason for supporting your organization and how their support made positive change.

  • Segment Your Data – As you are updating your database with an assortment of record-keeping efforts, be certain to capture key data points for easy segmenting:

    • Gift levels.
    • How they connected to your nonprofit.
    • Preferred communication methods.

  • Set Goals – Know your destination so you can create a road map to get to it. Take a look at your data for the past few years and note your efforts to acquire and retain donors. A special campaign to re-engage previous donors can lead to financial support. Also include a timeline for each activity. And with any project, measure your outcomes and note your lessons learned.

  • Finding the audience – Each year, ask your board of directors to provide a list of potential donors whom they will contact or make an introduction to the executive director. As the saying goes, “Ask for advice, you get a donation. Ask for a donation, you get advice.”

  • Leverage your digital presence – There is no getting around it: nonprofits must engage in the digital space to build awareness and connect with potential donors.  Although social media cannot be a primary fundraising source, it is the space that provides you an opportunity to strike up a conversation with community members and build a relationship that could lead to volunteer engagement and donor support. You can also recruit these social fans to assist with fundraising by leveraging their own digital space to conduct peer-to-peer fundraising events.
  • Online Auctions – You can build your database by hosting a virtual event that offers anyone in the world an opportunity to bid on an item and you can add contact information into your database for future cultivation.

  • Engage a Younger Donor – Millennials want to be actively supporting their nonprofit of choice by volunteering as their initial connection point before investing financially.  Create an advisory council to welcome younger generations into your organization.

  • Share Your Outcomes – In a study conducted by Root Cause, results showed that 75% of the respondents are looking for concrete evidence of impact, so set up methods of tracking those outcomes so you can share the impact with your community.

In closing, a key step towards successfully building your donor list is to step out of your usual approach to find clever methods to connect with the people who are likely aligned with your nonprofit’s mission.  Experiment with each of the tactics to see if they resonate with your community.  It is also important to assess how things are going after implementing the activity.  Monitor impact and celebrate the successes.  Remember, Rome was not built in a day.


Posted in Fundraising.