By Alexandra Ervan

Acquiring new donors can come with a large price tag.  It may involve an acquisition strategy through a direct mail campaign that usually yields low number of new donors and may not be profitable for many years. Could there be a lower cost alternative? Leveraging your existing donors!

Why Leverage Your Existing Donors? 

Your existing donors already have a commitment to your organization and they:

  • Support your cause
  • Believe in your mission
  • Have seen firsthand your commitment to the mission of your organization
  • Can testify that you are putting their donation dollars to good use and most donors would love to find other ways to help

Have a Stewardship Plan

A good relationship with your existing donor is very important if you are going to ask for help and introductions to other potential donors. To strengthen your relationship with your donors, a good stewardship plan is vital to have in place and should include:

  • Always saying “thank you” in a personal way for each gift that is received. At a minimum a thank you note should always be sent to lower level donors. Marketing automation can help you automate this process and personalize the notes based on information stored in your Constituent Relationship Manager (CRM). For larger donations take it a step further by making a call to say, “thank you”.
  • Listening to your donors. Let your donor know that they are important and that their feedback is valuable to your organization. This can go a long way in strengthening the relationship with your donors.
  • Educating your donors on the state of your nonprofit. This can help make sure they are well informed about your mission and able to share the information with  their friends and colleagues who may donate to your organization in the future.

Ask Your Major Donors for Help

The majority of donation dollars come from a your major donors. This is a small segment of your donor pool who give large amounts to your organization. Once you have your stewardship plan in motion, it is a great time to ask your major donors for help:

  • Invite your donor to meet face-to-face. Ask them to bring friends and colleagues they would like to introduce to your organization who they feel might have an interest in your mission. Having an in-person meeting where your donor can make introductions will be more effective than just asking for a list of names. The donor is now participating in the prospecting process and leveraging their existing relationship with the potential donor. This can help provide insight into the personal experience the prospective donor has had with your organization already.
  • Host a more intimate gathering for your major donors and encourage them to bring their friends, families, and colleagues. This will allow your organization to give a larger group information on your nonprofit and mission. Your organization should organize the event for your major donors and pay for the food and drinks of the group. Make sure you gather the attendees contact information before they leave the event. You’ll then be able to follow up with them and begin to steward them for a potential major gift.
  • Provide incentives, like free tickets to events, to entice your donors to bring your organization prospective donors. You can also ask your donors to purchase tables or blocks of tickets for your events and bring their friends, families and colleagues.

Leveraging your Donor Base

Even though your base of donors may not be donating large amount of money individually, as a group they make up a large chunk of your received donations. How can you ask these donors to help you bring in new donors?

Ask your donors for their opinion:

Understanding what your donors are interested in and providing an avenue for feedback is an easy way to show that you value how they feel. One way to accomplish this is by sending them a surveying. This will give your organization meaningful content you can use in the future to steward your current donors as well as acquire new donors and reengage lapsed donors.

Some questions to ask your existing donors that may help your organization’s donor acquisition strategy may include:

  1. How did you hear about us?
  2. What attracted you to the organization?
  3. What causes are most important to you?
  4. Was there a specific campaign that made you want to donate?
  5. How would you describe our organization to a friend, relative, or co-worker?
  6. How often do you like to hear from your nonprofit organization?
  7. What is important for you to know about an organization that you support?

Put your organization’s fundraising in the hands of your donors:

Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns are also a great way to get your current donors on the front lines of fundraising for your organization. It is a very inexpensive way to widen your organization’s reach.

Hosting a walk, run or cycle event is a great way for your donors to participate in peer-to-peer fundraising. Participants will have to seek sponsors and other group members, which will introduce new donors to your organization. You then will have a new pool of donors you can begin communicating with during the event and continue to steward long after the event is over.

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Alexandra Ervan

Alexandra Ervan

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