Nonprofit Entrepreneurship

Attracting Donors to Nonprofit Organizations

Attracting donors to nonprofit organizations is part art and part science. We offer helpful tips for raising money for a nonprofit organization.

Wouldn't it be great if donors stampeded the doors of your nonprofit, eager to pour money into your organization's bank account?

Attracting Donors to Nonprofit Organizations

Unfortunately, that's not how it works. If you want donors to rally to your cause, you need to attract them.

The key ingredient in attracting donors to a nonprofit organization is persistence. Every piece of literature and every personal contact is an opportunity to bring new supporters into the fold. It's critical to maintain a constant focus on new donors, especially if your organization is in a growth phase. Here's how to do it . . .

Communicate Purpose & Effectiveness

People won't give to your organization simply because you have glossy, full-color promotional literature. Quality materials help, but the real reason donors give is because they believe in the organization's mission and have confidence in its ability fulfill it. The only way they will learn about your nonprofit's purpose and effectiveness is if you tell them about it. Make it a habit to tell your organization's story as often as possible. What attracted you to the organization? If you are the founder, what motivated you to get involved? How have individual clients benefited from the organization's programs? The answers to these questions are the kind of thing that inspires new donors and motivates them to make a financial commitment to the organization.

Demonstrate Donor Impact

Donors want to know that their contribution will actually be used to make a difference. Soliciting donations to pay the electric bill isn't nearly as exciting as soliciting donations to save a life. Nonetheless, the electric bill still needs to be paid, so how do you make it more attractive to donors? One way is to break the organization's budget down in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of each donation. For example, suppose your organization's annual operating budget is $100,000 and you serve approximately 1,000 clients a year. By communicating that a $100 donation provides services for one client, you help donors visualize the impact of their contribution and make it more appealing for them to write a check.

Set Goals

Another tool for attracting donors is to establish and communicate organizational goals. These goals can be geared toward specific programs or toward the organization as a whole. The important thing is to clearly communicate the benefits of reaching the goal as well as your progress. Donors want the organization succeed, but they are relying on you to lead the way and provide periodic status reports.

Perform Follow-up

Since the best donors are repeat donors, the job of attracting donors continues after the donation is received. Make a conscious effort to promptly thank them for their contribution in writing. If the donor has been particularly generous, a personal contact by phone or in person might also be appropriate. As much as possible, it's also worthwhile to get to know your donors in order to discover what kinds of projects excite them. Even if the organization isn't currently pursuing any projects they are interested in, it's possible that a future project may be able to accommodate their giving interests.

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We greatly appreciate any advice you can provide on this topic. Please contribute your insights on this topic so others can benefit.

  • Cyprian Ombati posted on 12/21/2009
    Cyprian Ombati
    Thank alot for the great insight on attaracting donors. I hope it will help my organization so much
  • raymond mitchell posted on 1/14/2011
    raymond mitchell
    Which is better, to pursue donors via internet or face to face?
  • Ken Gaebler posted on 1/14/2011
    Ken Gaebler
    Raymond, what types of nonprofit donors are you trying to attract? Some nonprofits do better with Internet donations and some do better with face-to-face nonprofit fundraising. The bigger the donation you want, the more likely you will need to have personal meetings with donors. Good luck!

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