As a school, your fundraising drive must include a strategy for identifying donors and soliciting a donation from them. If not, then you are not maximizing your fundraising potential. More donors equal more revenue to help you achieve your objectives.
When you are trying to fundraise for a cause, nothing is more important than identifying what you need to know about your donors. Knowing who your donors are and where to find them allows you to tailor your fundraising appeal accordingly.
This blog discusses how you identify donors and where you can find them to help you raise the money you need to support your cause.
First Things First, Small Donors Matter!
There is every reason to put effort into securing major donors. They can easily write you a $10,000 check while building a relationship that you will need for future donations.
However, securing such a donor is not a walk in the park, especially for a learning institution. The reality is the majority of your supporters are members of the community who are mostly low to middle-income households. They are most likely people you know.
What makes these types of donors attractive for your school? For starters, they care about the school and its role in the community especially if they or their children attend the school. Their friends and families are either students or work at the school, giving them more reasons to donate. Perhaps more importantly, they don't need to convene meetings to decide the amount they will donate (unlike corporate donors, for example). They don't need a heap of paperwork or any approval to accept your request.
They can make a fantastic donation fast, especially if you have an emergency fundraiser. Where do you find them? Right at the heart of your community. All you have to do is approach them.
Community Donors Are Best for Specific Projects
This one is a continuation of the above point. If your school has a special program, for instance, to help children from vulnerable families put food on their tables, a major donor may be moved and may even fund the entire project.
However, community members are more likely to contribute since they know these children and are more emotionally invested in making a difference. The best thing is, you won't have to walk through brick walls to secure their support. Knowing the donors, you have been working so hard to secure is right under your nose?
One mistake you must avoid is assuming an individual's capacity (or lack thereof) to make a big donation. Unless they tell you otherwise, assume they can make a big difference in your cause. They may not look or dress the part, but you wouldn't know about their ability if you don't ask. Besides, any donation, no matter how small, still gets you closer to your goal, right?
Leverage Your Personal Circle
We understand your school spends resources and time to secure new donors. However, have you also tried your circle? The people who are already known to you, including your friends, current and former coworkers, and family members, are your first support group. Because of your past [and present] relationship with these people, they are likely to believe in you and trust your cause. Remember, people give to people, not causes.
You may have friends and family with the capability to make a big donation but haven't done so because you may have overlooked them. Even if they don't make a big donation, at least you won't spend a lot of resources soliciting from them. You, therefore, have nothing to lose by adding them to your potential donor list!
There Is a Lot of Potential in Your Current Donors
A lot has been said about donor acquisition, but have you considered that your current donors are capable and willing to support your cause again, only that no one has asked them to? That's right. If a donor has contributed $200 in the last three years, that IS the message. They are telling you through their contributions that they care about your cause. It is worth your time and effort to reach out and solicit from them. They won't donate if you don't ask them.
Keep in mind that most donors who help your school's mission are mostly not interested in recognition. However, if you can recognize donors on the fundraiser website or elsewhere, it certainly can’t hurt. Most of them would prefer to read about the impact their contributions made. If they know that the money they contribute is put to good use, they will keep supporting the cause.
Attending Parties Will Help You Find Donors
You are likely to bump into philanthropists at parties and events, probably through your current connections. However, you have to be bold when striking a conversation with them. Don't be reluctant to start conversations with them because you think you are 'stealing' them from another nonprofit. Use that opportunity to learn about their interests and priorities while telling them more about your school and your running cause.
Ultimately, they will decide whether to support your cause or not. If they have supported similar causes before, they are more likely to support you. However, you have to ask.
Apart from parties, more donors can be found at your fundraising event. Besides raising money, your fundraising event is an opportunity to make more connections and meet more people. Who knows, you may just come across your next big donor!
Your Donors Are Pretty Much Everywhere
As you have seen, there is no shortage of people ready, willing, and capable of supporting your cause. They are out there waiting for you to work through the process of finding them and asking for their contribution. These are people who want to make a difference. They care about donating to causes that help the community. Fundraisers to help schools provide stationery, sports equipment, and laptops, among others, are precisely the type of missions they are ready to donate to.
Therefore, use your connections, leverage your fundraisers, and cultivate the current donors. You will discover that there hasn't been a shortage of donor dollars all along, just that you have not been looking in the right places.