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December 4, 2021
Finding New Donors for Your Nonprofit
By Robin L. Cabral

Robin Cabral
Robin Cabral
Each year, about 10% of your nonprofit donor base will decrease naturally through death, moving, or just not giving any longer, making your task clear: you need to find new donors.

Here are some simple steps that you can take to combat this natural attrition and begin adding new names to your donor list.

1) Conduct a "treasure map" exercise with your board members to help them think of all those who they come into contact with in their networks, i.e., people with whom they attend church, volunteer on other boards of directors, friends, etc.

2) Host a gathering or tour and have board and staff bring those prospective donors to this event. It should include a program that shares information about the organization and its mission, services, ways to get involved, and most importantly, a testimonial. Don't forget to conduct follow-up with all those who attend these events to find out what they thought about the event and to determine further interest for engagement.

3) Use social media as a way to find new donors. Consider having a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Don't overwhelm yourself with having to manage and pay attention to too many networks at a time. Instead, be strategic, profile your ideal donor and then determine what networks that you are most likely to find them. Keep up to date on your competitors' websites and how they are managing their social media presence. Then promote, promote, promote and have your board and staff act as "social media ambassadors," sharing the page with friends, family, and other interested individuals. Keep content fresh, consider automating content with an automating app, and don't forget to comment and interact with others. Keep content 80% of interest and 20% promotional.

4) Take a look at similar organization's annual reports, websites, and newsletters and compile a list of who is giving to them. Compile a prospective list of donors. Ask board and staff if they happen to know anyone on these lists. If so, begin to cultivate them.

5) Get the local voter or street records list, sometimes referred to as "grand" lists and review this list with board and staff based on property assessment, location, or other criteria that meet your ideal donor profile. From there pull together a prospective donor list and cultivate!

6) Ask for referrals from your current donors. These donors already are giving to you and love you. So ask them who else may they know who might be interested in becoming more involved in the organization.

7) Be sure when you are doing outreach at events or speaking engagements to bring along a guest book so that interested attendees can sign up to receive more information. You have a captive, interested audience, so you want to be sure to get their names and contact information. Research them if possible, segment out those with greater interest and capacity for cultivation, and add all the other names to your mailing list.

8) Identify new attendees to your organization's fundraising events and create strategies that will take their transactional attendance to possible transformational engagement in your organization. One possible first step is to call those new attendees and find out what they thought about the event and if they see themselves getting more involved or interested in learning more.

9) Capture interested website visitors with a website "pop-up" offering free information and resources. Send these folks a welcome and begin to send them relevant informational emails in cultivation. Ensure that your site is mobile-friendly as more and more folks are using their mobile devices to access content.

10) And, of course, you can always rent and purchase mailing lists from a list broker.
Taking these 10 steps can help you to start to stem the tide of donor attrition by adding new names to your donor lists. Best of all, they work!

Robin Cabral, principal of Development Consulting Solutions, is a certified fundraising executive who works with mid-sized nonprofits to build capacity and improve fundraising results. Email her at or call 508-685-8899.
October 2017
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