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Where Do You Find New Donors?


That is an interesting question: where do you find new donors? It is a question I am often asked. Whether you are a new nonprofit or you have been around for a few decades, you are always in need of new donors. Occasionally you secure them accidentally. They hear about you through a friend or even a story on the television news. They may have responded to your direct mail appeal.


There are some other ways to attract new donors – ways that have a good track record for success. These methods will not garner hundreds of people but will engage people who care about your mission.


My favorite method is VIP events. The goal of the event is to introduce individuals to the organization’s mission. An organization can utilize different formats.

  • Coffee and bagels at the organization’s office

  • Coffee and dessert at a donor’s home

  • A tour of the organization’s facility followed by a social hour

All of these events would include a welcome by the president of the board, a few words by the executive director, and if appropriate a few comments from a recipient of the organization’s mission. The latter can be accomplished with a short video.


Who to invite? Ask board members and donors to come and bring a friend, neighbor, or business associate. Because this is a non-ask event that is both informational and social, board members are more inclined to participate. You can also invite non-donors on your list. An invitation to a free event to learn about the organization might entice them. Another group an organization can invite are individuals on your SYBUNT (Some Year But Unfortunately Not This) list. Encourage them to come and bring a friend. Because they have been donors in the past, this may be a way to re-energize them. When inviting individuals on the SYBUNT list, be sure to remind them that they are past donors, that their gift is appreciated, and let them know the impact of their gift.


It is important to keep the event small so that people can engage. Always have board members and staff present who can answer questions and clearly articulate the organization’s services, programs, and aspirations.


Board members are often reluctant to hand over a list of names with contact information. Because a VIP event is educational and social, the reluctance seems to fall away. This is truly a wonderful way to find new individuals for volunteering, event participation, memberships, and future solicitation opportunities.


I am also a proponent of giving circles. These have other names, such as, donor circles, donor clubs, or affinity groups. I lean toward basing the group on a giving level. Experience has demonstrated over the years that groups like these do work. Admittedly, there have been periods of time when giving circles have fallen out-of-favor. The basic concept is that donors at a certain level, perhaps $100 to $499, are part of the “Friends” of the organization circle. The Friends Circle benefit might be a quarterly meeting with key staff to learn about new programs and services at the organization. The Friends can invite someone to come with them. The goal is for the Friend’s guest to become a new Friend of the organization. Again, the activity is both educational and social.


There are a few other methods of gaining prospective donors. Two suggestions are:


Business Volunteer Day: Ask one of the organization’s business donors or a business where a board member or volunteer works to recruit the business’ staff to spend a day helping with a large project. Projects can include painting a space, making donor thank you calls, preparing a mailing, or stuffing back-to-school backpacks. Seeing and hearing what the organization does and actively participating is a special way to reach new potential donors.


Donor Press Release: We often think of press releases going just to the media. Consider sending the organization’s press releases to donors by email. Ask them to forward the press release to at least one friend and post the press release on their Linked-In or Facebook page. The organization will want to post all press releases on the organization’s Linked-In and Facebook pages. These press releases can announce a new staff hire, receipt of a grant, start of a new program, or the accomplishments of a program or even a client. There are many great things happening at your nonprofit. Sharing information in the form of a press release is a wonderful way to touch base with donors and encourage them to share with others. Your organization’s next major donor is out there – are you?


All blogs from Formula for Fundraising are written by Diana V. Hoyt and do not use AI. You might say they are DI (Diana Intelligence for whatever it is worth. I humbly think it is worth a lot).

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