In many of our blogs, we discuss how donations are a vital part of a school’s funds and help schools start and maintain programs that help students access higher learning and broader opportunities. However, as we all know, there are no donations without donors. They hold the keys that ignite a fundraising drive.
There are many steps involved in the process of acquiring money from donors. They include donor identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship. As you can see, donor identification is the very first step.
Before you even think of asking for donations, the first step is identifying your potential donors. After all, you will not get a single dollar if you are asking the wrong people. At the same time, you can’t ask everyone to donate.
So, how do you identify a potential donor? Read on as we equip you with the strategies you need to identify potential donors.
Previous Giving History
Previous donors are the obvious go-to and are the most likely to be recurring donors. While getting that first donation can be a tough nut to crack, someone who understands your cause and has donated in the past will likely offer support again. Therefore, being able to easily track donations and list all your donors who contributed to your past fundraisers is an essential component for identifying this pool of potential donors.
From the list, look at how recent their contribution was, their frequency of giving, and their donated amount. If they have given every year for the last 5 years, even if they contributed $10 every time, then they are likely to donate again if approached.
While at it, examine the donor type. They could be individuals, foundations, local businesses, or corporations. Look at the issues they care about; health, child welfare, the local community, etc. They are likely to donate if your cause aligns with their interests.
In connection, look for people who have shown interest and donated to other non-profits. Likely, these prospects are not on your school’s radar, so you will need to use other platforms like social media to get their contact information. Their profiles will give you an idea of what causes they are likely to support. Ultimately, you are looking at people who have demonstrated philanthropic capacity and willingness.
Update Your Donor Database
As mentioned, your donor database is the first place you will start your donor identification exercise. Thus, you will need to have a neat and orderly donor database. It makes the process quicker and more efficient. Start with doing away with inaccurate data. It will help you easily sift through the list, identify donors, and get in touch with them.
Updating your donor database involves removing inactive donors from the list. If they have not contributed for two or three years, they are probably no longer interested in contributing. Additionally, you should have updated information about the donors, including their addresses and contact details. Remove errors /duplicate information from the list and neatly organize the remaining data.
You will know the average donations your school received from the list and organize your donors according to those who donated above and below the average.
Use Your Board and Staff
You may have a long list of past donors, but you will still need to ask your board and staff for names of friends, family, and colleagues who may be interested in funding your school mission. However, make it clear that you will not be asking for their donations straightaway. Well, unless they show a genuine desire to contribute.
Your board is doing a lot of good things for your school, but are you utilizing them to the best of their abilities? Think about it this way; your board members don’t live in a vacuum. They have social lives, friends, contacts, and family members. If they can help make key introductions, you could have a new list of potential donors to cultivate. The fact that your board members will introduce them is already a bonus. They will be more open to the idea of donating if the introduction came from a member of your board/staff.
Ideally, you want your staff to introduce their contacts to your school and its mission. They can invite them over for a school tour, events and/or offer them opportunities to volunteer. They will start as friends of your institution before you can raise money from them. Talk about using peer pressure to good use!
Prioritize Your Online Presence
A lot of people are spending most of their time online. This is where they meet new friends, do their shopping, conduct searches, you name it. The internet is the present and the future. Having a solid online presence is a perfect way of identifying potential donors.
This means a good website and an active social media presence. When uploading content on your online platforms, include constant calls to action that will capture your visitor’s attention.
Additionally, find ways of transitioning your visitors from the website scanning phase to the donation phase. This can be done by sending email streams to build relationships, which will eventually lead to the solicitation phase.
You can also expand your outreach using social media. There are plenty of potential donors scanning social media to learn more about organizations to donate to.
Constantly share information about your school’s cause and stay active by replying to user queries and comments. Use platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to encourage users to support your cause.
Post regularly and keep supporters updated on ongoing projects, share impact stories from past fundraisers, express your gratitude to past donors who made the mission possible, and attract people’s attention by mixing the content with videos and photos.
Additionally, encourage users to share the content, so it reaches as many people as possible. You will identify plenty of individuals ready and willing to support your cause. Reach out to them, and you may secure yourself a set of new donors.
As you can see, potential donors cannot be identified from one place. However, you will identify a pool of potential donors by optimizing your database, using your staff and board members, and prioritizing your online presence.
Hopefully, this will take you to the next step of soliciting and acquiring the donations you need.