- Participants in your spring 5K fundraiser.
- People who attended your gala as a guest of a board member.
- Family members of clients/ students/ patients.
- People who’ve contacted you for help, education, or information.
- Short-term volunteer project participants.
The names on these lists are your potential donors – people who have connected with your organization in some way, but have not yet supported you financially – your best candidates for an influx of new supporters.
How hard are you working to entice, invite, and persuade them to support your mission?
This is one of those fundraising tasks that is easily ignored or derailed.
We forgot to ask volunteers to sign-in at that church drop-in workday. We never get around to entering the list of names our board member handed us at the last meeting. We got so busy with our upcoming fundraising gala, we never got around to sending that follow-up letter from our educational workshop.
There is a huge untapped potential in this segment of your donor database. Bumping this group up on your priority list is an easy way to bring in more money – a great return in investment of your time.
Here’s how to get started.
There are essentially two things you need to turn these potential donors into new donors:
You need a strong commitment to collect and enter contact information consistently.
Think through your streams of untapped potential donors. Who might they be? Use the list at the beginning of this post to inspire your brainstorming.
Once you identify your best sources of potential donors, make sure you consistently gather their contact information at events, on the phone, etc… Make a habit of immediately recording that contact information within your database and tag them as a potential donor.
You need a recruitment strategy.
Once the donors are entered into your database, what do you do with them?
Here are my recommendations for a donor recruitment strategy:
1. Determine how long you’ll keep potential donors in your mailing stream (e.g. your recruitment phase).
During this phase, try diligently to inspire their financial support. But give it a deadline. Decide when it makes sense to “bless and release” them, rather than continuing to contact them year after year.
2. Mail each prospect 2-3 inspiring requests for support.
Soon after adding a prospect’s donor record to your database, mail them a follow-up letter thanking them for their involvement, whatever that means for that particular donor. If they’ve attended an educational workshop or your fundraising gala, for example, thank them profusely for coming.
At the close of this follow-up letter, ask directly for their financial support. Include a strong case for why they should support your mission.
Send a general prospect recruitment appeal in the fall as a part of your fall or year-end campaign. Make sure your letter is targeted toward potential donors, distinct from your donor renewal letter.
In the spring, send another targeted appeal, one that again speaks to their unique connection with your organization. For example, If they are the parents of one of your students, or an adopter of one of your shelter pets, make sure to incorporate that into the context of the letter.
3. After three attempts, remove them from your mailing stream. Create a custom field where you’ll indicate in their donor record that they are a former prospect or non-recruit. You’ll need those records if they show up at another event in the future.
4. Take a look at your amazing results!
Don’t forget to measure your success. You’ll want to understand what percentage of potential donors in “active recruitment” converted from non-donor to new donor. You’ll want to understand how your appeals performed and test different versions of the letters to identify the most effective message.
You may need to come up with a different strategy for your organization. You could try emailing, sending a newsletter, or extending the recruitment period for another year. Maybe you’ll only send one letter or email if more mailings don’t fit your budget. Over time, through testing and paying attention to your results, you’ll figure out what strategy works best.
The most important thing is to have a simple plan in place.