One of the questions I get asked a lot is about where and how to find donors. And my answer can never be much more than providing a starting point for further work. Because you don’t want to find just any donor, you want to find yours. Donors that share your dreams and are able to invest in realizing them. Finding those donors, specific to you, requires work on your part.
So how to get started
If you are looking for individual donors, a good starting point to find new donors is understanding the existing ones. What are they like? What do they have in common? Do they have any personal connection to the issue you are addressing? Where are they hanging out? Where could you bump into them? Go to these places (online or offline) and look for similar people, who might also want to support you.
Tip 1 – engage with your current donors
It is good to see to what extent you can analyze and understand your existing donors. But it is also clever to validate your analysis with help of your current donors. Ask them if you can pick their brains. Ask them what kind of person they think would be interested in supporting you. Where do they think you might find such persons? (And don’t forget to ask them if they could help you identify, find and speak with these people).
Tip 2 – start with your board
Don’t forget to mobilize your board! Are all members of your board donating? (Some donors find this important information, and see it as a positive sign if 100% of your board is giving even if it is not a big amount) Can your board members help you find donors? Maybe through their workplace, their sports club, their former school or university year club, their family?
Tip 3 – make sure they can find you
Keep in mind that potential donors can also find you! So, make sure your website and social media platforms are up to date and provide clear information about your impact, highlighted in stories, numbers and visuals. And don’t forget to include clear instructions in case someone wants to jump right in as a volunteer or donor. It might be good to provide an option to subscribe to a newsletter, too. That way you can reach out to people with new stories and updates of what you are working on and planning and build relations over time.
OK, but I want to look for a grant
If you want to try for a grant, your first step is also to look for organizations that are already supporting similar impact through other nonprofits. You can ask around at other nonprofits near you. And you can find out which donors are active in your field by checking out annual reports of organizations that are similar to you, for instance based in another country. You may also check with embassies of foreign countries to see if they have a grant programme or know of any partnerships of organizations from their country with local groups in yours.
Tip 4 – online search
You can of course search online and see what pops up. If a search works well, you can set up a Google alert so you will see when a new item with the same parameters comes online. Or you can set up your own calendar alert to check out certain websites weekly or every other week.
Tip 5 – use a service
You can also use a search service such as fundsforngos. There are usually free and paid options. Keep in mind that if you use the paid option, it may be easier for you to find suitable calls and possibilities. So with a small investment you can save time and be more effective – possibly.
Tip 6 – learn all you can about potential donors
Once you have identified suitable donors make sure you learn everything you can about them, their dreams, strategies, policies, priorities and programmes. Almost all donors and embassies can be found on Facebook where they share a lot of information about the things that are important to them, the activities they take part in and the work they support.
And I have two more tips for you!
- Set aside time for your search for donors. Plan this in your calendar by blocking time for this task.
- Know this process will take time. Don’t be discouraged too soon.
Want to know more and ask questions?
If you want to discuss this more – jump into the Facebook group and get input from a wide range of peers and from myself!
Here is how you can join my free Facebook group
You can join my free Facebook group how to become a professional and resilient nonprofit with Suzanne Bakker here. In this group we will create a safe space for open exchange and discussion on potentially sensitive topics like boards, nonprofit management, fundraising, etc.