As a fundraiser, one of your most important tasks is to identify and cultivate relationships with major donors. These are the individuals or organizations who give large gifts that keep your nonprofit running. But what happens when your current pool of major donors dries up? It’s imperative that you constantly be on the lookout for the next generation of major donors. Here are seven tips to help you find them.
1. Keep tabs on your competition.
Your competition for donations is not just other nonprofits; it’s also for-profit companies vying for the same charitable dollars. Knowing who they are and what they’re doing will give you insights into where potential donors might be coming from. Furthermore, understanding your competition will help you position your nonprofit in a way that makes it more appealing to potential donors.
2. Do your research.
Before approaching anyone for a donation, take the time to research their giving history. Look for patterns in the types of organizations they support and the causes they care about. This will help you tailor your pitch and increase your chances of success. Here are four tips to research major donors:
Tips #1: Know your ideal donor.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to have a clear understanding of who your ideal donor is before you start researching potential candidates. By knowing your target audience, you can narrow your search and focus your efforts on individuals who are more likely to be receptive to your message.
Tip #2: Use multiple sources.
Don’t rely on just one source of information when research potential donors. Try using a combination of online and offline sources, such as newspapers, magazines, LinkedIn, and company websites. This will help you get a more well-rounded picture of each individual.
Tip #3: Search for common interests.
When you’re looking at potential donors, try to find common interests that you can use as conversation starters. This could be anything from shared alma maters to mutual friends or colleagues. By finding something that you have in common, you can make a more personal connection with the individual.
Tip #4: Use a wealth screening tool.
It’s important to remember that everyone has a right to privacy, and this includes potential donors. Be respectful of their boundaries and don’t overstep by trying to contact them too frequently or by asking for too much information up front. If you follow these simple tips, you’ll be on your way to developing relationships with major donors in no time!
3. Use social media to your advantage.
Social media is a powerful tool that can help you connect with potential donors who might not be on your radar otherwise. Use hashtags and keywords to find people who are talking about the issues your nonprofit addresses. Once you’ve found them, engage with them in a meaningful way.
4. Build relationships with key influencers.
There are certain individuals in any given community who have a large influence over others. These could be thought leaders, community organizers, or even just really popular people with a lot of social media followers. If you can build positive relationships with these key influencers, they will help you reach a larger audience of potential donors.
We have found some of these donors by reviewing new donors acquired. You never know who might hear of your nonprofit, give, and want to get involved. For example, we discovered a former football player who is a local hero that recently gave a gift from a radio campaign. He is excited about the mission of the organization and wants to discover ways he can help.
5. Ask for introductions.
One of the best ways to meet new potential donors is through introductions from people they already know and trust—namely, your current major donors. Younger donors prefer user generated content to content created by brands.
When asking major donors for referrals, it is important to be clear about the type of individual or organization you are seeking. For example, you might say something like, “We are looking for potential major donors who are interested in supporting our work. Do you know anyone who might fit this description?” By being specific, you will increase the likelihood that the referral will be a good match for your organization. In addition, it is important to express your appreciation for the referral and follow up promptly with any leads that are provided. By taking these steps, you will show your major donors that you value their support and help to build strong relationships that can last for years to come.
6. Be creative in your cultivation effort.
Cultivating relationships with potential major donors doesn’t always have to involve asking for money right away. Consider hosting events or creating educational materials that allow them to get to know your organization better without feeling pressured to give financially. You can also get creative in how you thank them for their support, whether it’s financial or otherwise.
In our Nonprofit Industry Benchmark Reports, you’ll find that a majority of younger donors prefer to hear from your nonprofit monthly. Include stories of transformation and great impact stories to keep your younger donors engaged and interested in your work.
7. Keep track of your prospects.
As you cultivate relationships with potential major donor prospects, it’s important to keep track of where they are in their journey so you know when the time is right to ask for a gift. Creating a contact management system will help you stay organized and ensure that no one falls through the cracks.
Finding and cultivating relationships with major donors is an essential part of any fundraiser’s job description. However, it’s also important to continuously be on the lookout for the next generation of major donors so that you’re never caught off guard if your current pool dries up. By following these seven tips, you’ll be well on your way to finding and cultivating relationships with potential major donors who will keep your nonprofit running for years to come.