How Small Nonprofits Can Acquire Major Donors

Just because your organization is small doesn’t mean it can’t bring in big donors. In fact, some of your best prospects might be right under your nose. These tips will help you find major donors by capitalizing on the connections you already have and expanding your reach in the community.

Do more with your database

Your database holds more answers than you think. Exhaust all your efforts there before you even think of searching for major donors elsewhere. Start by looking for donors who have given a certain amount, say $1,000 or more, in any given year within the last few years.

Wealth indicator data is also super helpful—sometimes donations alone don’t tell the whole story. For example, if someone gives your organization a modest donation but they’re worth millions of dollars, they’re a potential major donor, too. Some databases include information on income or net worth, but if you don’t have one on hand you’d be surprised by what you can find with a simple internet search (it’s not creepy if it’s for a good cause).

Ask for help

There’s no shame in using your connections to make more connections. Even if your board members, stakeholders and staff aren’t major donors themselves, they may know someone with some extra cash lying around. You’ll find people just beyond your network who may have never before been involved with your organization. Plus, a relationship that begins with an introduction from a mutual friend will likely get you farther than one that starts with a cold call.

Think long term

Your major donors should be in it for the long haul. After you secure their donation, your follow-up needs to be just as powerful as your initial efforts if you want your major supporters to continue (and increase) their donations. There are a few ways to do this, outside of showering them with thank-you’s, of course. Show your major donors their return on investment and emphasize the direct and lasting effects of their generosity through storytelling. You can then encourage them to get further involved through volunteering to give them a more personal tie to your organization.

Additionally, you need to continuously analyze your statistics and metrics throughout the year. Check for trends and patterns among your donors to find areas where you excel and areas where you could improve in your fundraising strategy. Honest self-assessment will give you positive long-term results.

Turn to the community

One of the biggest advantages of a small organization is the fact that your cause is likely local. That means people will care about what you’re doing in the community because it hits close to home. By presenting at community events or hosting your own fundraisers, you can make people care about your cause—and when people care about a cause, they donate.

It’s not easy for any organization, large or small, to find new major donors. Small shops can do it, though, and they have some distinct advantages. Be prepared to hear your fair share of no’s when asking for the big bucks, but don’t let it bring you down. Just a few major donors have the potential to transform your organization for the better, so remember to put quality over quantity in your search!

major donors

Randy Hawthorne

As the former Executive Director and Editor for Nonprofit Hub and a Professional Certified Marketer, Randy shares his passions of marketing and education with nonprofits to help them implement marketing and organizational leadership principles so they can grow their organizations. Randy lends his marketing and organizational leadership expertise to a number of nonprofits in his community. Outside the office, Randy works with high school and college students and mentors young professionals to develop their leadership and entrepreneurial skills.

March 8, 2019

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