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Where To Find New Donors For Your Nonprofit

Guest Post by Fundraising Expert, Sandy Rees, CFRE

You need new donors.  New donors bring money and other kinds of support to the table.  But the hard truth is this:

If you don’t bring in new donors, you’ll eventually have none.

Here’s why:

Donor retention rates are horrible.  Let’s say you start with 100 donors.  Statistics show that as many as 65 of them will leave you.  That means you’ll end the year with only 35 donors.  Sad, but true.

So, you need new donors.  But the big question is, where to find them.

Avoid “Rich People”

Most folks want to go find the “rich people” in town.  Not a good idea.  Just because people have money doesn’t mean they’ll give it to you.  And, most people have their favorite cause.  If yours isn’t their favorite, your chances of getting a gift aren’t good.

Being strategic about finding new donors can save you a lot of time and trouble, AND bring you donors who will stick around a long time.

So, why aren’t more nonprofits using a winning strategy to find new donors?  I believe they haven’t thought about it or they’re just taking whatever new donors come along.  I also think they are so busy chasing money and trying to just get dollars in the door that they haven’t stopped long enough to evaluate the Big Picture to see what they truly need.

3 Common Mistakes

Here are the 3 common mistakes made by nonprofits looking for new donors:

  •  The Passion Myth.  When you’re passionate about your cause, it’s easy to think that everyone else is, too. But the truth is, they aren’t. You’ll find a few people who are as passionate as you about your cause. And you’ll find more who care but don’t have the same level of deep concern. Stop expecting people to mirror your enthusiasm, and be willing to accept whatever level of concern they bring. You might be able to fan the flames a bit and engage them deeper in your work, but that will take effort and strategy. It doesn’t just magically happen.
  • Casting a wind net.  Don’t try to appeal to your entire community. Remember, not everyone gives to charity, and of those who do, most have their favorites. Trying to get in front of your entire community is a “spray and pray” method – you’re sharing your message with everyone and hoping someone responds. It’s not usually effective.  An example is getting a story in the newspaper or on TV. It’s easy to get excited about the hundreds or thousands of people who will see it, but there’s really only a small segment of the readers/viewers who will care, and of those, a smaller segment will actually take action.
  • Dry Pond Approach.  You’re not fishing where the fish are. You’re showing up wherever you can to speak or network and hoping that because your nonprofit does good work that people will support you. Then you’re disappointed when they don’t. This is why sometimes it’s a total waste of your time to go speak to a group – they’re not the right audience for you, so they’ll listen politely, but at the end of the day, they’re not going to help you change more lives.

How do you avoid these mistakes and add hundreds of good, new donors to your family?

Ideal Donor Profile

Start by creating an Ideal Donor Profile to give you an idea of exactly who you’re looking for.  An Ideal Donor Profile identifies the top psychographics and demographics of your best donor, so that you can go find more people just like them.

Think about that: if you knew a few key details of your best donors, wouldn’t it make donor acquisition a lot easier?

It doesn’t have to be complicated to figure out.  Sit down with a blank piece of paper and think about your top donors. Jot down their names. What do they have in common? Think about their age, their sex, their education, and whatever else you can think of. Write each one down.  If you can get at least 3-5 things, this will help.

When I worked at a food bank, I did this exercise. It was very unscientific. I just thought about some of our best donors. Some of them were our biggest donors and some weren’t, but they were consistent and often sent words of encouragement with their check.  Here’s what I figured out about them:

  • Women
  • Aged 55-70
  • College educated
  • Attended church services regularly
  • Volunteered in the community

I looked at that list and said, “Where can I go find more people just like that?”

After thinking a bit, it occurred to me that women’s groups at churches might be a place where I could find ideal donors easily and in large numbers. I started asking around to see who belonged to a women’s group where I could go speak, and got several leads. I put together a hot presentation with a clear call to action, and off I went. I remember at one church, almost everyone in the room signed up to hear more about our work and how they could get involved. Several ladies handed me a check before I left, and a few days later, I got a check from the group as a whole.

So, instead of looking for “rich people” or just warm-body donors, spend the time to get really clear about who is an ideal donor for your nonprofit. You’ll be way more likely to get donors that will give bigger and give longer.


Sandy is hosting a free, live fundraising webinar for Foundation Group clients and subscribers on Thursday, November 19, 2015.  Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to learn from a true expert in the field!

Sign up for free today!

Sandy Rees

Sandy Rees is the founder of Get Fully Funded where she shows nonprofit founders how to fully fund their big vision so they can spend their time changing lives instead of worrying about money. She has helped hundreds of new nonprofits go from “nickel-and-dime fundraising” to adding 6 figures to their bottom line. As a trainer, she shows her students how to find ideal donors, connect through authentic messaging, and build relationships that stand the test of time, so that fundraising becomes easy and predictable. Grab her latest ebook “Fund Your Dream” at

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