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How to Make the Most of Your Donor Prospect Research
How to Make the Most of Your Donor Prospect Research

Donor prospect research is no easy task, and takes a lot of time and effort. Selecting the right donor(s) are important, as their contributions are a direct reflection of your organization’s mission and goals. Prospect research is a great opportunity to learn more about potential or existing donors’ personal backgrounds, history of giving, indicators of wealth, their philanthropic motivations, and so on. You’re able to get a better gauge on a donor’s ability to give, and if they align with your nonprofits objectives and values. 

What is the best way to find prospects?

There are three main ways you can conduct your prospect research:

  • DIY. If you feel like you can find the right prospects using your own search methods, then go for it! This method won’t cost you any money, although it is a long and tedious process. Especially if you’re a one man show or doing research with a small team, there’s only so much information you can sift through between all the social networks and government and private databases. 
  • Use a consultant (hint hint, us)! Consultants have the knowledge and resources to find you the best prospects. They can also help train your staff on prospect research, develop research strategies, and build relationships in prospect relations.
  • Hire a prospecting company. If you’re looking to be almost completely hands off, then hiring a prospecting company is the way to go. They’ll be able to handle everything from start to finish, so you have more time to focus on other tasks. 

How do you know which prospects to screen? 

Each prospect will be unique in its appeal to you. But the first factor to consider is how large their past donations have been, as it’s a good indicator for what they could donate in the future. If the donation amounts don’t seem to align with your organization, give it a pass. Also, look to see if there are any personal or business contacts at the organization you can reach out to. A little networking never hurts anyone, and it’s a great way to start building a relationship with your prospects. You’ll also want to look out for consistency. How often is the organization donating? Is the amount they give consistent based on the nonprofits size? 

How do you utilize the research? 

Once you have the research, there are a few steps you want to take in ensuring you’re utilizing it properly. 

  1. Create an organized, centralized place for your research. Whether it’s Google Docs, spreadsheets, a project management app, etc, make sure you’re conducting research in a way that is organized and easy to reference. 
  2. Dissect the research. What factors are most important for your nonprofit when considering donors? Maybe it’s the amount they’re willing to donate, or their organization’s mission statement and values. 
  3. Make a plan to reach out. Once you have a prospects data, how do you plan to reach out? What does your timeline look like, and what methods of communication might work best for each donor?

Does your nonprofit need help with donor prospect research? RBW Strategy has you covered! Using a proven approach for success, we can help by performing detailed research to determine potential foundation, government and/or corporate funding prospects. Visit our services page to learn more!

donors
Donors are an essential part of your operations, and they deserve meaningful thank yous. While all nonprofits know the importance of saying thank you, we often neglect adding personalization. And unfortunately, our thank you’s tend to be a one and done deal. Relationship building is crucial in the nonprofit world, and it’s time we start doing more than the bare minimum! There are so many fun and creative ways to show donors your appreciation. If you’re running out of ideas, here are a few options to explore. 

donors

  1. Send food from a local bakery or restaurant

    Think about some of the best gifts you’ve ever received. Chances are, they were the ones where a lot of thought was put into it. Do some research to see if you can find a local bakery or restaurant near the donor’s headquarters — one only the locals would know about. Or alternatively, send them some goodies from a local restaurant or bakery near your nonprofit headquarters. One thing to be weary of with this tactic is allergies, so make sure you take note of any dietary restrictions before ordering.

  2. Record a video message

    Nonprofit teams are typically crunched for time, which means it’s all too easy to resort to a simple thank you email. If you really want to stand out, go for a video message! There are tons of formats you can experiment with. Maybe you can showcase a way their donation is being used, or do a compilation video of everyone at the company saying thank you. They’ll also be able to use it in their marketing efforts — a big bonus! 

  3. Send greeting cards (but go the extra mile)

    If you’re going to send a thank you card, don’t leave it generic! Make sure it’s handwritten, addresses specific people, and discusses how the donation has improved your funding efforts. Instead of sending a one off card, we recommend celebrating continuous milestones. So for example, make a note on the calendar of the day you received the donation, and send them a greeting card on an annual basis. You could also keep tabs on personal milestones and send thank you cards for those — like if the donor was recently married or had a child. 

  4. Incorporate the donor into your marketing efforts

    Make sure you’re showcasing the donor on social media, email newsletters, annual reports, etc. This also helps build up your nonprofits marketing efforts, and facilitates continuous conversations online. We’ve seen a lot of nonprofits do donor spotlight blogs, webinars, and other interactive content as well. 

  5. Send some swag

    Everybody likes free stuff right? Consider sending the donor some customized company items that you have on hand, like a tshirt, coffee mug, or bottle opener. Encourage them to share pictures utilizing the swag and tag on social media. 

  6. Visit them in person, or offer them a tour at your headquarters

    Unfortunately, the pandemic makes this one a bit tricky right now. When operations resume in the future, consider inviting the donors to take a tour of your headquarters, or make a point to visit them in person if you’re near their headquarters. Even a special Zoom call could make someone’s day.

 

What ideas do you have for thanking and engaging your donors? We’d love to hear from you! And if you’re looking for funding help, we’ve got you covered. RBW Strategy specializes in services like prospect research, grant writing, grant review, and more. Contact us to learn more today.

On Thursday, May 7, I will be conducting a training with my dear friend and colleague, Ayda Sanver at the Center for Nonprofit Advancement in Washington, D.C. We’ll be discussing a topic that I know is near and dear to many – disengaged boards and miscommunication between nonprofit board and staff.

How can these two groups work together for the betterment of the community, and what tools can help them do so? This makes me also think about leadership, and how passion for a mission can be tampered by focus on administrative matters.Nonprofit board of directors

Here are some tips for nonprofit leaders that might help:

  • Be strategic and thoughtful about what you are able to accomplish
  • Lay ground rules so everyone knows their role, expectations and place within the organization
  • Maintain accountability on specific operational and fundraising tasks
  • Have a strategic planning discussion at least annually to discuss the organization’s path and framework for the future
  • Respect one another’s time, expertise and commitment to the cause

Join us for a deeper discussion on the topic – we know this will be helpful to you and your team.

Register Now!

 

This post originally appeared on the Center for Nonprofit Advancement’s website