August 17, 2021 | Categories Donor Management, DonorPerfect Fundraising Software, Featured, Fundraising Strategies, Nonprofit Technology

8 Donor Outreach Ideas for Transformational Fundraisers

8 Donor Outreach Ideas for Transformational Fundraising

These days, people want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. How can you harness the power of this paradigm shift to strengthen your donor retention within your own donor community and get closer to your fundraising goals? It’s all about a shift of your own toward transformational fundraising. That means:

  1. Get an idea of who comprises your donor community
  2. Listen to everyone involved in your mission
  3. Show donors you’re listening through action
  4. Be a thought leader in your sector
  5. Celebrate your supporters’ personal milestones
  6. Invite donors to be experts on your cause
  7. Build community among your donors
  8. Keep your community future-focused

Donor Outreach Idea #1

Get an idea of who comprises your donor community

You certainly know who many of your donors are, but have you ever gotten a bird’s eye view of your donor community in its entirety? If you’re like many nonprofits who see a lapsed donor rate of over 50% year after year, it’s well worth the effort to determine who exactly is inspired by your cause. With demographic information as your baseline, you can use best practices to develop a fundraising strategy that speaks to each donor group respectively to make the most impact.

Donor Outreach Idea #2

Listen to everyone involved in your mission

People love sharing their input. Take a look at your Google reviews, for example. Google gives a voice to everyone on the internet, and potential donors use reviews to guide their decision on whether they choose to donate.

Be like Google. But reach people before they make their feedback public. This means sending surveys (or giving facetime) to every person who comes in contact with your cause to learn things like:

  • [Donors]: How satisfied they are with your communications + updates
  • [Lapsed donors]: Why they stopped giving
  • [Volunteers]: What oversights they notice in your processes
  • [Staff]: What would make day-to-day operations easier
  • [Board]: How you can better allocate resources
  • [People you serve]: How you can improve the quality of your services

When you give people the opportunity to give you a piece of their mind, you only improve your relationship with them – which could totally translate to a better Google review.

Donor Outreach Idea #3

Show donors you’re listening through action

Being transparent about how your nonprofit is addressing feedback and improving will only make you a better fundraiser. You’ll become more approachable, trustworthy, respectable – and above all, it will get you closer to your fundraising goals.

Let’s say someone recommends that your program should be expanded to include an additional resource that would benefit the people you serve even further – and it’s really solid advice! Communicate with them that you implemented this feedback and acknowledge their contribution publicly, if they’re comfortable.

Bonus: Consider asking providers of feedback if they’d like to feature in a video or written interview to share with your supporters as part of a newsletter update.

Put together video campaigns that reach all your donors at once with DP Video »

Donor Outreach Idea #4

Be a thought leader in your sector

A great way to earn your donors’ funding is to first earn their trust. Nowadays, donors are becoming more and more invested in the societal problems you’re seeking to solve – and they perform their own research on them. Knowing what they already know, they won’t join your effort unless they’re confident in your confidence, addressing the issues at hand.

So, show your community the expert you already are and engage them with education. This could look like:

  • Regular webinars to raise awareness about the need for your services
  • Advocacy training for community members to learn how best to support the populations you serve
  • Open mic events that welcome those impacted by the issues to share their firsthand experiences
  • Bite-size facts that can be shared in the form of social media graphics (and don’t forget to add a buzzy hashtag!)

When your community can trust you as THE go-to organization to stay informed on the issues they care about, they will naturally want to support you financially.

Donor Outreach Idea #5

Celebrate your supporters’ personal milestones

Just as Facebook clips together fun moments with friends on your “friendiversary,” you can celebrate memories and personal achievements with your supporters to remind them how much they mean to your mission. Some personal milestones you might celebrate could be:


Let donors know what their generosity made possible since their very first gift. You can schedule reports in your CRM that remind you to reach out to donors in the month of their very first gift, and you can include in your communication their giving total and years donated. Bonus if you can tell them what progress you’ve made in that time.

Here’s how to set a filter for donor anniversaries in DonorPerfect »

Donor + Volunteer Spotlights

Major contributors deserve major recognition. Set your CRM to alert you when a donor has made a major gift or when a volunteer has accrued a certain number of hours. Then, shout them out on social media, your newsletter, and your website with a photo or video of them (with their permission, of course!).

Here’s how to set automated workflows in DonorPerfect »

Exclusive Perks

In addition to showcasing the good your donors and volunteers are doing, invite them to share in exclusive perks that make them feel like VIP.

  • Access to restricted areas of your facility (ex: feeding animals for environmental nonprofits, backstage passes for arts nonprofits)
  • Rockstar treatment at events (ex: free meals, meet-and-greets with special guests)
  • Private, full-length screenings of impact videos before they hit the public

New Donors

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to wow the newest members of your donor community by letting them know they’re a part of your community. The New Donor Welcome Series Email Template Kit can help you make a fabulous first impression.

Donor Outreach Idea #6

Invite donors to be experts on your cause

Your most passionate donors are likely already sharing on social media what they know about the issues your mission addresses. So why not empower them with resources to get involved through peer-to-peer fundraising?

Millennials + Generation Z

These socially conscious generations especially take to this fundraising format because they are inspired by each other’s awareness of social issues and want to feel included in making a difference. Put out the SOS on your social media pages to call on these donors to take part in your fundraising campaign – and put their unique spin on it.


Now more than ever, CEOs are encouraging their employees to give back – and they’re leading by example. Email your corporate donors to open a conversation and determine whether there’s an opportunity to connect their employees to your cause through a matching gift program or fundraising challenge. The workplace is an excellent place for friendly coworker competition.


When little ones hear about someone who needs help, they naturally want to take action – and kids can be truly fearless fundraisers. Consider making fundraising a family affair! Parents may be able to connect you with their child’s school, where staff may already be seeking small-dollar fundraisers or walk-a-thon opportunities.

Incentivize fundraisers to raise more by offering prizes to the top earners. These can be low-value gifts with your logo that remind them of your mission every time they see it.

Donor Outreach Idea #7

Build community among your donors

Your most loyal donors are the ones you’re on a first-name basis with. They’re the ones who show up to every gala and devote the most time to your volunteer opportunities. It’s because you’ve built more than a donor-fundraiser relationship – you’ve developed a friendship. But there isn’t enough time in the world for that many close friends across your entire donor base. So how do you strengthen the bonds within your donor community that inspire them to keep coming back? Connect them with each other via events and team-building.

It doesn’t hurt to have some fun for a good cause. And as a matter of fact, your guests might bring guests of their own. Give some of these ideas a go:

  • Traditional galas + fashion shows
  • Barbeques + outdoor games
  • Community cleanups + coffee
  • Happy hours + mixers
  • Concerts

The phrase, “small world” is truer than you think. And when you make your community feel smaller by introducing people to one another, the fight for your cause becomes personal. Who wouldn’t want to support their friends?

Donor Outreach Idea #8

Keep your community future-focused

When you focus on your progress, rather than the tasks at hand, not only will your staff think more positively about the possibilities of your nonprofit, but so will your donors. Rather than operate campaign to campaign, help them see the big picture by sharing your yearly goals and overall vision in the form of goal thermometers – and don’t forget to celebrate every success.

When you harness the paradigm shift toward transformational fundraising, you will have greater success rallying your community, funding your mission, and reaching beyond your immediate goals together.

Enrich Your Donor Relationships with DonorPerfect

Written by Laura Bucher