Before you can craft a case statement or embark upon a major fundraising campaign, you need to do your donor research. Cold calls aren’t effective when approaching high-capacity donor prospects. Without knowing your philanthropy base, you risk missing a lot of opportunities, according to fundraising expert Marc A. Pitman.
Thorough research is time consuming, so enlist as much help as you can. If hiring a fundraising consultant is out of budget, a DIY approach is possible. No matter how small your staff is, this is a task you can’t afford to skip. If you know where and how to look, you can minimize the hours devoted to sleuthing.
Here’s how to begin:
Who do you already know?
Don’t overlook the obvious. Your most likely prospects are those who have made prior donations to your organization, said Gail Perry. They’re already familiar with your mission and you have concrete proof they share your values. Chances are high they’ll be receptive to a phone call or a meeting.
Business management software can save you time in finding your past contributors. Instead of hunting through old emails or brainstorming those you remember, you can pull up a centralized database of notes and contact information for everyone who’s supported your organization. If you’re a new nonprofit just getting off the ground, start building out a database now.
Do an Internet search
Google is one of the best places to learn more about your network of possible benefactors. You can sift through corporate bios, finding businesses who are willing to give and have a lot of capital. If you’re looking for alumni support, you can uncover successful individuals who would be more than happy to give back to their alma mater. You can also find community volunteer lists online. Those who contribute their time to a cause are likely open to giving donations.
If the Google search seems too general, or if you feel overwhelmed by scrolling through too many pages, try narrowing your search. Place key words in quotes, and the search engine will be likelier to turn up the results you want. Take a look at Google’s search operators for guidance.
It’s useful to conduct an image search. This will help you communicate more easily when making phone calls to individuals you’ve not yet met.
Let them tell you
If you’re worried about being intrusive, remember that you’re only searching for publicly available information. You definitely don’t want to pry, but a lot of your prospects have voluntarily offered up this knowledge. Social media pages are a fantastic source of data about donor values. If someone willingly posts contact information on a public Facebook page, then you already have the go-ahead to make the call without overstepping boundaries.
Make the connection
Think about whether prospective donors know others who could also offer financial support to your nonprofit. Is anyone involved with another charitable agency whose mission is similar? Employees, volunteers and board members of altruistic organizations know firsthand the importance of donations. They’re likely to be sympathetic to your cause.
Don’t forget about corporate connections. A culture of giving isn’t excluded from the business world. Companies often want to share their successes toward the greater good.
Before approaching a donor, you want to have an idea of how much they’re able to give. This way, you won’t lose a potential contributor by asking for too much. You also won’t risk asking for too little. Find out as much as you can about a prospect’s wealth. Individuals who don’t have a lot of cash to give can often offer help in the form of assets or real estate, said Nonprofit Hub.
Try to find as much financial data as you can, using public records only. If you’re ready to write an appeal to the largest-capacity audience, take a look at Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index. Don’t fret if you can’t find wealth data for every possible benefactor. You’ll have plenty of other usable knowledge from your search.