5 Strategies to Attracting Online Donors Using Prospect Research
Prospect research is a valuable tool by which nonprofits can collect data on donors to appeal to them in an effective and personalized manner. Whether your organization is new to the world of online fundraising or has a well-established Internet presence, you can incorporate prospect research findings in your efforts to attract online donors.
In this post, we’ll show you what you can learn about your donors from conducting prospect research and how to apply those findings to your online fundraising strategy. You’ll learn how your organization can:
- Tailor your online strategy to different groups of donors.
- Connect with new supporters through your shared cause.
- Revitalize relationships with current and past donors.
- Engage with tech-savvy supporters on social media.
- Make online giving easy for all of your donors.
Let’s begin by addressing a fundamental goal of prospect research: using information collected on your donors to divide them into different segments and create a unique approach for each group. Join us as we learn how to reach new and current donors alike using online fundraising strategies that take their histories and interests into account.
1. Tailor Your Online Strategy to Different Groups of Donors.
Prospect research is the process through which your nonprofit gathers information to identify potential donors who are likely to make future contributions to your organization. It’s a great way to find new donors, but your donor research can also provide you with plenty of fresh information on your most regular supporters!
The data collected using prospect research is divided into two broad categories, philanthropic indicators and wealth markers.
Philanthropic indicators measure your potential donors’ likelihood of contributing to your organization by considering:
- Their past contributions to your nonprofit. Prospect research identifies your loyal supporters, who have made donations or volunteered with your organization in the past.
- Their history of involvement with other nonprofits. If your potential donors have a demonstrated record of donating to nonprofits, volunteering or involving themselves with specific causes, they may be more likely to support your organization as well.
- Personal activities and interests. Individuals who share your organization’s focus or mission are great candidates to reach out to.
Wealth markers evaluate your potential donors’ ability to contribute to your organization and can help you determine how much you should ask for from specific donors or groups of donors. Wealth markers include:
- Their real estate ownership. Real estate is a traditional indicator of wealth that remains an important component of prospect research and the associated practice of wealth screening. If you’re conducting your own research, you can find property values on websites such as Zillow.
- Their stock holdings. Records of stock holdings for publicly traded companies are available through gov and can provide additional information on potential donors’ financial standings.
- Their career and business affiliations. What positions do your potential donors hold within their businesses? What companies are they associated with? Prospect research can help you find this information not only for your potential donors, but also for their spouses and families. This provides your organization with larger networks of people to reach out to!
- Their political giving. Histories of political donations reveal not only your potential donors’ capacity for giving, but also their commitment to particular viewpoints and causes. If your organization’s views align with theirs, you can leverage those similarities in your appeals to politically involved potential donors.
The strength of prospect research lies in its ability to evaluate a potential donor according to all of these factors. Because prospect research considers both philanthropic indicators and wealth markers, your organization gets a well-rounded understanding of each potential donor.
How can you use this information to attract online donors more effectively? The first step is to approach different groups of potential online donors in different ways. As you’re creating your online donation materials, use your prospect research data to consider:
- Your potential donors’ familiarity with your organization. Your online donation forms, emails and social media presence may differ depending on whether you’re targeting your regular supporters or a new group of potential online donors.
- Your social media strategy. Are your potential donors frequent social media users who tend to get involved with causes and organizations via the Internet, or is online engagement with nonprofits a new experience for them?
- Your potential supporters’ online donation histories. Every donor deserves an online donation form that’s easy to understand and quick to use, but potential supporters who are less familiar with online donation may need more explanation or reassurance of security features to make their contributions this way.
- Your suggested donation amounts. Do the amounts on your online donation form’s buttons align with your potential donors’ giving capabilities, indicated by the wealth markers evaluated through your prospect research? Different forms or emails for different groups of donors may be an ideal strategy to account for variations in estimated wealth.
Once you’ve categorized your potential donors using the data you obtained through prospect research, it’s time to start creating online fundraising approaches to appeal to each group. One factor to consider early in the process is whether or not your potential supporters are already familiar with your organization and its mission.
2. Connect With New Supporters Through Your Shared Cause.
When your organization uses prospect research to find out your potential donors’ philanthropic histories, you discover more than whether they’ve donated to you in the past. Prospect research can provide you with a comprehensive history of your potential supporters’ past involvements with any nonprofit organizations.
Knowing the level and nature of your potential donors’ past involvement with other nonprofits is useful as you develop online fundraising strategies to reach these donors. You’ll want to reach out to:
- Individuals who have donated to other nonprofits in the past, especially those whose causes or missions are similar to yours. They’re likely to support your organization as well! If your research indicates that they made some or all of their previous contributions online, you’ll know that they’re already comfortable and familiar with online donations.
- Individuals who have expressed support for causes similar to yours, whether through in-person involvement or on social media. The latter in particular are likely to have made donations online in the past.
When you’re seeking online donations from these groups of potential supporters, focus on telling the story of your organization, whether that’s through a brief overview of your nonprofit on an online donation form or a social media post detailing a recent success story.
Committed to your cause and likely familiar with the process of making charitable contributions online, new supporters who share your organization’s goals can be very receptive audiences to your online materials. Take a look at Donor Search’s guide to prospect research for more information on how to identify potential donors who share your organization’s mission.
3. Revitalize Relationships With Current and Past Donors.
When your prospect research tells you whether your potential donors have supported your nonprofit in the past, what you receive is a record of their history with your organization.
How many times have they donated to your organization and in what amounts? Are their donations regular or sporadic? Have they also volunteered or expressed their support for your organization in other ways?
Even your most loyal supporters may be new to donating online. As always, it’s important to make your online form as accessible and easy to use as possible to encourage this method of giving. If you’re looking for more ways to make online donation appealing to current and former donors, try:
- Emailing them. Update your supporters on your organization’s recent progress and provide a link to your online donation form in an email.
- Encouraging interaction with their organization on social media. A strong social media presence across multiple popular platforms will both attract new donors and remind current and past supporters of your organization’s presence.
- Simplifying online giving wherever possible. How quickly can your potential supporters reach your online donation form from your emails or social media posts? For donors new to making their contributions online, convenience is an important factor.
Utilize the popular appeal of social media and the ubiquity of online communication to reach familiar audiences more efficiently and perhaps more creatively! Your new online strategies will make donating easier and reinforce your organization’s continued importance in your regular supporters’ lives.
4. Engage With Tech-Savvy Donors on Social Media.
You know how your nonprofit uses social media, but what role does it play in your potential donors’ lives? Use prospect research to learn more about your potential supporters’ social media habits, including their favorite platforms and whether they’re posting about causes like yours, to interact with them in some of the most popular online spaces.
Just as when you reach out to new potential donors, telling your organization’s story is an important part of your organization’s initial or expanding social media presence. Take advantage of multimedia capabilities like photo and video, and consider creating profiles on multiple platforms to maximize your opportunities to reach larger audiences.
A strong social media presence is likely to encourage online donors to give, so don’t make them search for the place to do it! Make your online donation form easily accessible from your page or profile, or embed it directly.
Social media can connect you more closely with established donors and introduce you to new ones. As you’re developing your next social media strategy, ensure that you’ve collected plenty of donor data to help you make it as effective as possible. Check out Donorly’s guide to prospecting tools, so that whether you’re conducting your own research or hiring a consultant to help, you find the information you need to make your online strategy successful.
5. Make Online Giving Easy for All of Your Donors.
Whether your potential donors are new or returning, social media-savvy or online novices, everyone will appreciate a donation form that’s fast and easy to use. As you use information collected through prospect research to create this essential component of your online fundraising strategy, consider:
- What information is included on your form? The best online donation forms don’t ask potential supporters for more information than necessary and present everything in one place. Remember that if you redirect potential donors to a new page, they’re less likely to complete their donation!
- Is your form mobile-responsive? If your prospect research indicates that many of your potential donors typically make their charitable contributions online, they expect to be able to use any device. Ensure that your donation form looks and works equally well on computer screens, tablets and smartphones.
- What features does your form offer? Donation buttons can make the giving process easier for some donors who appreciate the option of suggested contributions. Personalized receipts are a great way to confirm their donation and thank them right away!
By creating a form that donors want to use, you’ll encourage them to give again. Providing your donors with a convenient online giving option is a great way to widen your network of potential donors who want to support your organization from wherever they are.
When your organization incorporates the information on your potential donors gained through prospect research into your online fundraising strategy, you’re sure to reach new audiences and refresh your relationships with loyal supporters!