By Diane Bauhof, CFRE, Senior Consultant

I recently had a Board member ask how their organization could find new donors – if Let’s Build Hope had a list of people at our office who tend to give money. Um, no, we do not.

Finding new donors is a challenge for all nonprofit organizations. It’s not about mass advertising (nor could we afford it if it were)…it’s about building relationships. And that takes time…and thoughtful planning.

The dreaded “time” problem. There’s never enough time to do everything. The CEO and CDO should continually work with Board members, Development Committee members, and even some of your current donors to see who they know who might be interested in learning more about your organization. One introductory email or coffee meeting can lead to a potential new donor. And yes, it takes time and intention.

Following are ways you can engage new donors…

Board Treasure Mapping – Sit with each Board member individually and walk through their “Treasure Map.” It’s not about rich people; it’s about who they know who might have a passion for your organization. Strategize how to invite individuals to meet with the CEO or CDO. For example, does the Board member want to be at the introductory meeting or are they comfortable merely introducing you both via email? Create a strategy and timeline around each Treasure Map prospect.

Network – Attend networking opportunities that allow you and your organization to be seen and heard. This could be attending a community awards banquet or another nonprofit gathering. Also, look for speaking engagements; these lend credibility to your organization (and you!) and also keep your organization relevant in your industry.

Existing Events – If you have an existing annual event like a gala, are you reviewing your list of new attendees before/after the event and do you have a plan for engaging them further? If they are a guest of a Board member or someone you know, ask that person to send an email introduction or set up a brief chat. Prepare a special thank you letter from the CEO to all new attendees at the event. Do some research on the new attendees and prioritize who could be invited to meet with the CEO (or CDO) in the coming months.

Cultivation Events – These can be large or small and hosted at a variety of locations, depending on the size of your organization, your mission, and your budget. Be sure to include your Board members too.

  • Ask a Board member, donor, or committee member to host a small gathering (10-20 guests) in their home or club. The host invites their friends and connections to learn more about your organization. The CEO (or the Program Director) speaks, or maybe a client, to help the audience really understand and feel your organization’s impact. The key is the follow up plan after the party – you just made new friends so be ready to act after the event. Note: be sure it’s clear from the beginning what the host is providing so there aren’t any surprises!
  • If you have a facility to host an onsite event, invite a small group to learn more about your nonprofit’s impact. Offer tours of the facility, have a presentation from the CEO and/or a program partner/participant. Find a way to SHOW your mission to the attendees, not just with facts and figures…whether that’s through a video, presentation by a program participant, sharing a heartfelt success story, or a combination of infographics.

Cultivation activities, no matter the size or budget, won’t magically bring in new donors. You’ll want to have a plan for cultivating new prospects, further engaging them in your organization, leading them to WANT to join you for coffee to learn more about how they can be a part of your important mission.

And if these ideas don’t work, call us at Let’s Build Hope and we’ll share our magic list of donors who like to give away money. No really, there is no magic donor list!

#LBH #ElusiveNewDonors #TreasureMap #Cultivation #BuildDonorRelationships #NoMagicDonorList #GlimmersOfHope #Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *