Your current supporters are probably your best ambassadors for
bringing others on board, so start by taking a good look at your
existing donor list.
Trends and connections that you identify among your current contributors enable you to:
- Step up fundraising efforts where you are already successful, and
- Target new populations to approach for the first time.
Who's Supporting You Now?
If you've been tracking donations and collecting information about the source of each donation, your current donor list is a rich repository of information.
Here are some questions that can help you identify who's giving and who might give:
- Where do your current donors live? Make a zip code list and see if there are any patterns.
- How did they become donors? What brought them to your
organization? Did they first become involved by adopting or attending
an event? Did they see a news story? Were they referred by another
donor? Did they respond to a direct mail appeal? Which one?
The answers to these questions give you insight into what motivates the donors on your list to contribute to your agency.
- What do they do, and who do they know?
Put together a list of all your donors (without gift amounts). Next,
ask a few key people representing different segments of the community
(your fundraising committee, if you've got one, or members of your
board) to annotate the list with any information they can give you.
This information might include professions, major interests, club
memberships, lifestyle, etc. From this, you can identify the circles in
which your donors travel — where potential new donors may travel as
Using What You Know
Knowing more about your present supporters is tremendously valuable in establishing long-term relationships
with those donors. Your new knowledge is also useful for connecting
with a new audience of potential donors. Here are just a few things you
can do to reach that audience:
- Ask donors (particularly those who live in affluent areas or have
access to other people of means) to host gatherings of friends,
neighbors, or business colleagues where you can tell your story. Or ask
these donors to host shelter tours for the people they know.
- Ask a donor who belongs to a service club or other organization to get you on the speakers docket.
- Ask a donor who became involved after attending an event to
host a table at your next benefit or even serve on the event committee.
- Ask donors who work at major businesses to arrange special giving days where they work.
- If your agency hosts a walk for animals or a similar
sponsorship event, ask donors who work at local businesses if they will
recruit a company team for your event. Often, companies will agree to
match the funds raised by their team members.
The more you learn about your donors, the more ways you can identify
to build on that knowledge to reach more individuals who are likely to
support your work.
Photo of Phoebe courtesy Hannah Robinson