7 Ways to Find New Donors for Nonprofits on a Budget

Donor Acquisition and Retention

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This guest post was contributed by Get Fully Funded.

The bigger and more responsive your donor base is, the easier it is to raise all the money you need to fully fund your nonprofit’s budget.

Finding new donors for your nonprofit can seem like a challenge if you aren’t strategically looking for the right people.

If you’re looking for ANYONE who will give, you’ll be frustrated in the end because you won’t find many people.

But, if you stop for a minute and get clear about exactly who you’re looking for, you’ll find that it’s not that hard to find new donors for your nonprofit without spending a lot of money (or any money!).

First, understand that not everyone will give to your organization, and that’s okay. So, don’t think that everyone should or will give. Some people don’t give to charity (gasp!) and others have their favorite causes, which may not include yours.

You need to look for people who love your mission but haven’t met you yet.

They love the idea of the work you’re doing, but don’t know your nonprofit is there.

Make sense?

One key to building a big donor base is to be consistent in searching for new donors. Don’t just look once a year. Look at everything you do as an opportunity to find new supporters. That means every fundraiser, volunteer recruitment fair, mission fair – everything you do in the community is an opportunity to meet new supporters.

But if you don’t have your donor acquisition radar up, you’ll miss them.

Train yourself to evaluate events and activities as the chance to find new donors and you’ll start finding them everywhere, all the time.

7 ways to find new donors for nonprofits on a budget

Building your donor base doesn’t have to be expensive.

There’s no need to spend a lot of money purchasing a mailing list and sending a letter. That strategy can work, but it’s tricky unless you know what you’re doing.

Here are some easy, affordable ways to find new donors for your nonprofit so you can build a big, loyal donor base without spending a ton of money.

  1. Ask everyone to give. Start with the obvious. Ask your volunteers and staff to give. Ask your Board to give. As leaders of your organization, Board members should demonstrate that leadership with a personal, financial contribution. Ask your program participants to make a donation. Don’t assume they won’t give. Offer them the chance to make a donation and see what happens. Sometimes, it’s a great source of pride for them to be able to give back, even if it’s just a few dollars.
  2. Look for introductions. Your Board, volunteers, staff, and program participants can all introduce you to their friends and family who might become new supporters for you. The trick here is to make it easy for them to connect their folks to your nonprofit. Write a letter or email that they can send. Offer them a link to your donation page they can post online. Give them some talking points to share in the checkout line. Do whatever you have to do to make it easy for them to talk about your nonprofit and make the introduction.
  3. Speak to local civic clubs, churches, or anywhere else your target audience is. Speaking can be a terrific way to find new donors. Target groups full of ideal donor prospects – people who are most likely to want to give to your nonprofit. Describe the need, tell a heartwarming story, and finish with a strong call to action to inspire people to take the next step to get involved with your organization.
  4. Hold an Open House at your facility. Invite the community to see first-hand what your nonprofit does. Invite current and prospective donors from your list. Ask Board members and volunteers to bring a friend. The more people you can get to attend, the more new donors you can acquire in an afternoon or evening. Draft Gratitude, a horse rescue in Winchester, NH, holds an “Open Barn” one Saturday each month so people can take a tour and find out how to get more involved. Every month, they get new volunteers, new donors, and new monthly donors. It costs very little to organize and is very much worth their time.
  5. Schedule House Parties. Encourage Board members, volunteers, and current donors to invite their friends over for food, fellowship, and finding out about your nonprofit’s work. Keep the program short and impactful, then invite people to get involved with your organization by making a donation. If your house party host stands up and says “Friends, this is a cause near and dear to my heart. Please help,” you’ll get lots of new donors simply because of the strength of the relationship between the host and the guests.
  6. Pitch a story to the local media. This doesn’t always result in new donors, but it can. It definitely increases awareness and legitimizes your nonprofit, making all your other fundraising efforts more successful. The key is to pitch a good story – it needs to be more than “Help us reach our $10,000 goal” and more like “we’re trying to double the number of animals we save this year.”
  7. Ask your social media followers to give. Using photos and video to tell your story, invite your followers to get more involved by helping to meet a specific need. Donations on social media work best when there’s a specific problem to solve, like sponsoring the next 5 kids in your program, purchasing a piece of equipment, or paying for a $1,200 surgery for a dog named Mittens you just saved.

When you start growing your donor base consistently, lots of fun things start to happen and fundraising gets easier. The more donors you have, the more monthly donors will show up. More people will self-identify themselves as major donors with larger gifts. And you’ll have more people asking to volunteer.

Growing a big, loyal donor base isn’t something you can work on once a year and be done. It takes an ongoing, consistent effort to find donors who care about your nonprofit’s work and are willing to give over and over. That’s why it’s important to make donor acquisition part of your annual fundraising plan so you can focus on it all year long.

Get in the habit of looking for donors everywhere you go and amazingly, you’ll start to find new donors in lots of places.

About the Author:

Sandy Rees is the Founder and Chief Encouragement Officer at Get Fully Funded.

Sandy shows leaders of small nonprofits how to fully fund their big vision, so they can spend more time changing lives instead of worrying about money. She has helped dozens of small nonprofits go from “nickel-and-dime fundraising” to adding 6 figures to their bottom line. As a trainer, she shows her students how to find ideal donors, connect through authentic messaging, and build relationships that stand the test of time, so that fundraising becomes easy and predictable. Find out more at www.GetFullyFunded.com.

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