3 Tactics to Acquiring New Donors for Your Nonprofit
Nonprofits have a lot of competition these days. In short, there was a time when donors would do some research to find a local nonprofit group to support. Those days are coming to an end. In the modern era of philanthropy, people who care about social causes can support causes through nonprofits, social enterprises, or for-profit businesses.
Moreover, technology and more people-centric (i.e., donors and supporters) ways of giving continue to expand, which is essential for nonprofit leaders to understand. For example, people could open a donor-advised fund (DAF) for very little money. In the past, the usual minimum was $20,000, and that prevented many from parking their money in a DAF until they figured out a cause they wanted to support.
If early adopters want to give with the ease of tech platforms, welcome to the era of crypto-giving through technology such as Social Good Foundation or Cryptoponics. Also, leading organizations, such as St. Jude, are reaching out to new audiences, like gamers, because they know they have to meet people where they are, to support a good cause. Gaming is an enormous opportunity for nonprofit organizations, so they're thinking creatively.
How could nonprofits seek to acquire new donors in innovative and creative ways with all of that happening quickly? Let's explore some ideas.
1. Donors Aren't All the Same and They Don't Give in the Same Ways
Nonprofits need to understand that their prospective donors and supporters aren't all one way or another. They all have different backgrounds, interests, and they also prefer to give differently. For example, at the risk of making a mass generalization, people over the age of 50 prefer to support nonprofits in traditional ways by giving their credit cards. However, people in their 40s and below are much more open to supporting a good cause in other ways.
For example, younger donors are fully fluent and comfortable using mobile payment systems such as Apple Pay, Zelle, or Venmo. They’re also much more amenable to using text-to-give, and they don’t have much of a problem purchasing something for themselves and having a portion of those funds go to a good cause. In short, nonprofits have to be ready to accept fundraising dollars and revenue in all kinds of different ways using easy-to-use technology platforms, including social media, such as Facebook.
2. Your Nonprofit Personality Has to Shine
As we know, nonprofits must operate successfully in the digital age to survive. As a result, they have to embrace social media and the digital platforms that allow them to spread their message to a much broader audience than existed in the past. Still, as great as it is to live in the digital age, it's also overwhelming to many people, including donors and supporters. In short, people are drowning in data and information. So you've got to cut through all of the noise to make an impression.
The promise given to society was that technology would make our lives more comfortable, and in many ways, it has, but there is a lot of messaging we see daily. That means it's essential for nonprofits to stand out from others, and the only way to do that is to position your nonprofit brand's personality to be front and center. That could mean doing unconventional fundraising and also ensuring that you prioritize the donor experience.
3. Invite Your Community Behind the Scenes
One of the effects of the digital era and the social distancing we've had to endure is that we've become disconnected from one another. Further, distances and walls are being created by others who stand between you and potential donors. The most straightforward example is donor-advised funds. Many fundraisers have discovered that when they want to get new gifts or even provide updates, they often need to connect with a trust officer at institutions like Fidelity Charitable Trust. All of these things create distance between nonprofits and donors and prospects.
Therefore, nonprofit organizations have to create opportunities for them to engage directly with donors. They have to remember that donors are motivated to support a nonprofit because something touched them emotionally. Social good giving is driven first and foremost by the heart and then by the mind. Thus, develop opportunities for donors and your community to see behind the scenes and the impact you make. Share videos, not just on social, but also in email marketing, about the work you do. Also, create virtual and in-person events, including open houses, for higher levels of engagement.
The ultimate aim is to develop strong relationships that lead toward win/win situations for your nonprofit and prospective donors. By supporting your cause, donors need to feel fulfilled and appreciate the impact their donations make (so make it a point to show them!). On the other side, you have the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships that span time and expand the work you do for your mission.
Editor's Note: This column was originally published in the May/June 2021 print edition of NonProfit PRO. Click here to subscribe.
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, a social enterprise that helps nonprofits, schools, churches, civic groups, individuals and others raise funds, while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations and the environment.
You can learn more about Wayne and obtain free resources, including his books on his blog, Not Your Father’s Charity.