How to Find Donors for Your Nonprofit

We’re sharing a few tips for growing an organization’s donor base

Finding donors for your nonprofit is one of the most important steps in growing your organization. While some nonprofits may receive funding through federal grants and funds, many rely heavily on individual donors and sponsor organizations. But how exactly do you find people who not only are moved by your mission but who will dig into their pockets and give to the cause? We’re sharing a few tips on how to find donors for your nonprofit

1. Build a donor profile

Before looking for donors and sponsors, it helps to know who exactly you’re searching for. Analyze your organization’s current donors. Then, use this information to determine the likely interests, hobbies, history of charitable giving (whether to your organization or another) and other philanthropic involvement of prospective donors, as well as their potential connections to your nonprofit. Once you understand who is likely to donate, you’ll have a greater chance of finding them and garnering their support.

Then, dig into the available data from your website, social media and even direct mail. This data can be useful in shedding light on who these people are. Use the information you’ve gathered to start building out ideal donor profiles. Similar to ideal customer profiles, these fictionalized donors provide an idealized version of your organization’s best supporters. Each will have their own job, financial income, age, hobbies, etc., based on real information on existing donors and the nonprofit’s analytics data. Developing these profiles helps you visualize the people that the organization should try to reach. This practice helps not only locate people like them but also develop messaging that appeals to them—whether for marketing communication, donation appeals, social media posts, personal phone calls or direct mail. 

When it comes to looking for donors, our minds tend to go first to those with larger incomes. However, while higher incomes are often correlated with larger gifts, be sure to also create a profile of an ideal donor with an average income. Loyal supporters who care about your cause and follow your nonprofit on social media will likely outnumber the big donors—and when someone truly cares about an organization’s cause and sees the need, they will support.

2. Maximize your network’s potential

Enlist the support of those who are already connected to the organization to help grow a nonprofit’s supporters. From the people closest to the founders and supporters, like friends and family members, to existing donors to those who are connected to the organization but have not yet donated, tapping into the organization’s existing network can expand its reach. Encourage your network to share your social posts, forward emails or give your organization a shoutout through their social page. That way, your message not only reaches a wider audience but also comes from a source that prospective donors trust. Don’t underestimate how successful word-of-mouth can be. 

Here are a couple of tips to maximize the potential of your nonprofit’s network:

  • Reach out to past donors including one-time donors. If they’ve supported an organization’s cause in the past, they may contribute again. The average retention rate for donors in the past ten years is 44%. Since the hard work of getting their attention has already been done, this makes them low-hanging fruit. 
  • Take advantage of people already in the organization’s network, like board members or volunteers, to share the organization’s message. They can either make introductions to potential donors or share information about the organization online, whether by forwarding an email or sharing a social media post or video. This strategy builds on the trust that these potential donors have for their connections and extends that trust to the organization as a whole.
  • Encourage peer-to-peer engagement and fundraising. Guide them through easy fundraising tactics, such as creating a birthday fundraiser on Facebook or forwarding donation emails to family and friends. Other cool ways to do peer-to-peer include making it possible for donors to host an in-person or virtual fundraising event, or create a campaign where they can create their own individualized fundraising pages to raise money for the organization. You never know who current donors know and may bring to your organization. 

3. Build a social media presence 

If you’re wondering how to find donors online, start by growing your organization’s social media presence. Fifty-five percent of people who engage with nonprofits on social media end up taking some sort of action, whether making a donation, volunteering, attending an event or purchasing a product where the proceeds benefit a cause. All actions of support are important. A Facebook like today could become a volunteer tomorrow and eventually a future donor if they’re stewarded correctly. Rely on your donor profile research to determine which social networks prospective donors are likely to use. 

According to Classy, the top social media platforms for nonprofits include Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Eighteen percent of donors worldwide have given through Facebook fundraising tools and 84% of Facebook users share to show their support for a cause and highlight issues that are important to them. Additionally, posting videos on YouTube can also make a big impact with 57 percent of nonprofit video viewers going on to make a donation. Finally, with Gen Z’s buying power on the rise, combined with their love for mission-driven brands and organizations, Instagram and TikTok could also serve as great platforms to grow supporters. 

After establishing a strong social media presence and organic social media strategy, you can begin to utilize social media platforms’ paid capabilities. Whether with targeted Facebook ads or Instagram stories, boosting posts helps extend an organization’s reach beyond its established audience. Here are a couple of tips to get you started with targeted advertising and the basics of paid social

4. Put your website to work

A nonprofit’s website is its resume. It’s the place where visitors and potential donors will go to see what your organization is all about—and potentially make a donation. The website should be functional and easy to navigate. It should clearly state the mission statement, show the urgent need and explain what donations support. Not only that, it should also include news, events and informative content or videos that keep users intrigued and encourage them to come back. Website engagement can and will eventually lead to donations. Once they’ve visited your website, you can implement retargeting strategies to continue the conversation.

Developing informative content related to the nonprofit helps new visitors find it by making the site visible in search results. Ensure that your content is optimized for search to increase the chances of the site appearing in the search results—reaching more readers who may one day turn into one-time or recurring donors. Learn the basics of search optimization to elevate your website’s strategy. 

To sum it up: Get to know your potential donors, leverage your existing audience and use digital channels to advance your cause. These tips will help you advance your organization’s mission to continue to reach a new audience. To find more advice on marketing your nonprofit—like taking advantage of email marketing or social media—check out our blog.

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