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June 6, 2023 | Categories Featured

Consider Your Network: Try a Relationship-Based Donor Acquisition Strategy

As a fundraiser, you already know the importance of relationships in your overall strategy, particularly for major giving, legacy and planned giving, board management, and volunteer coordination. Have you thought about how you can leverage these already positive relationships to acquire new donors?

People who are already connected to your supporters – like family, friends, colleagues, or volunteers at the same service organization – likely share goals and values in common. They also see that their loved one already trusts your nonprofit enough to give, making them the perfect candidates to be your next new donors.

Ever worry that your donor pipeline is running dry? Here are five opportunities for using your relationships and network to acquire new donors for your nonprofit. 

1) Spin a web of supporters with peer-to-peer and crowdfunding campaigns

Your most passionate supporters can help rally their networks around your mission and act as your champion through their own crowdfunding page or peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

When the fundraising goal is associated with your donor, their friends, family, and colleagues want to help them succeed. So instead of “Help support our cause,” the message becomes, “I’m walking to support this cause. Will you help me reach my goal?” 

At first, your supporter, not your mission, is the primary message and motivation for action. But once you thank these new donors and offer to help keep them connected to your cause, you can recruit these donors to become regular supporters. A monthly commitment of $10 is the perfect place to start!

Pro tip: While Facebook fundraisers can be effective, be sure to use a crowdfunding platform that provides you with the donors’ contact information. You’ll get donations from Facebook, but not data, making it challenging to recruit these new donors to give again in the future. 

2) Make sure your volunteers know how much you value their time commitment

Your most promising prospective donors and your current volunteers have at least two critical traits in common: passion for mission and a commitment to help you carry it out. Did you know that volunteers are 66% more likely to donate financially to the organization they support than those who do not volunteer their time? 

Before you ask your volunteers to give financially, are you stewarding them for their gifts of time? Research shows that feeling unappreciated is one of the main reasons why donors stop giving, and that applies to volunteers, too. 

3) Put your mission in front of prospective donors at community events

As critical as online engagement is, you’ll also need to get in front of your community where they already spend their time. It’s unlikely that generous people who haven’t yet heard of your nonprofit are googling around trying to find you, so to capture their attention, meet them where they are! 

Are there farmers’ markets, fun runs, or festivals where you can rent space for an informational table? Could you draw attention to your logo with matching t-shirts for a park cleanup or other volunteer day? Showing up – and showing up consistently – will help you become a community mainstay, getting your name and mission in front of prospective donors who might not have otherwise found you.

4) Show off your organization’s personality on your social media profiles 

If it’s consistent with your brand and values, here’s where you can have a little fun! Marketing research shows that consumers have a higher affinity for brands that communicate and interact with them as if they’re a person than they do with brands that behave like faceless corporations. 

You can show off your organization’s brand personality on social media by writing to your followers the way a person might write a post to their friends. Since social media is a more casual space, don’t be afraid to try some humor or otherwise let your personality shine. The National Parks Service’s social media is a fantastic example of using humor to catch new supporters’ attention and sneak in some educational opportunities. 

Social Media content planner ebook mockup

Not sure what to post or when? Get your free Social Media Content Planner now!

5) Explore marketing opportunities with your matching gift donors 

Just like with crowdfunding or peer-to-peer campaigns, matching gifts naturally encourage your community to rally around your goal and recruit their friends and family to join in your mission. Matching gifts can be provided by a single donor, a small group of donors, or even local businesses and corporations. 

If your matching gift donor is passionate and wants to participate, you can work with them to create messaging, deadlines, and lists of potential donors in their network to reach out to. Make sure you show them the impact of their generosity, and how many people their gift inspired to make gifts of their own! 

DonorPerfect clients: Want to automatically prompt your supporters to submit claims for matching gifts through their employers? Check out Double the Donation today!

Bonus: Wealth screening services and marketing lists

If you feel like you’ve tapped out your network and your network’s network, don’t give up yet! Organizations like DonorSearch can help you screen millions of public data points to find your next cohort of new donors. They look for people in your community with both the capacity and inclination, or interest, to make a philanthropic gift. Do they own real estate? Do they have a documented history of giving to other, like-minded organizations?

Wealth screening companies take this data and provide you with your top prospects for major gifts, and larger lists of people who are statistically more likely to become supporters than if you solicited your community at random. 

DonorPerfect Donor Profile on mobile app

DonorPerfect clients: DonorSearch integrates directly with your system, helping you find the best major giving candidates who are already in your database. 

Don’t have DonorPerfect? Click here to request a demo and see how you can make your data work for you!

When it comes to attracting new donors, try tapping into your network of supporters for help. Your passionate donors will be excited to have an opportunity to recruit their friends and family to join your cause! To keep your donor pipeline flowing, your supporters’ networks and wealth screening lists will help you find the people in your community who are already excited about your mission and ready to give generously. 

Once you have your new donors, how can you help them feel a personal connection to your nonprofit? Check out DonorPerfect’s free Data-Driven Donor Persona Checklist to learn how to skip past “Dear Friend” letters and right into meaningful relationships that will translate into higher donor retention. 

Create your donor personas today!

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Meet the author: Emily Zacek

Emily Zacek joined the DonorPerfect team as a copywriter in January, 2022. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2014 with degrees in flute performance and organizational studies, and her undergraduate thesis focused on labor activity trends in American arts nonprofits. She brings a...

Learn more about Emily Zacek
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