Organizations are often looking for the one or two donors who can contribute significantly to the work of the organization. While it would certainly be nice to have one donor who routinely gives the organization a large gift that would fund the entire operating budget for a year, that is probably too far-fetched to really happen. And, as nice as it seems, it is really not a good idea. Nonprofits and ministries need a broad donor base that includes many people. Having just a few sources of funding is almost as bad as not having any at all. Building a donor base will never be considered an easy task; however with some effort and patience it can be done on a shoestring budget.
Begin with a printed brochure that outlines the work of the organization, who it reaches, what it does and the impact it is having on those it serves. In other words, how is it changing the lives of those involved in its work? Then, use it to build relationships.
Hold a friend-raising event. People give to organizations they are connected to and can trust. Connections and trust are built through relationships. Hold an event at a comfortable place-your home, a casual restaurant or some other location where there are few distractions. The purpose of the event is simply to get to know people and to help them get to know the organization. Use the time together to tell the story of the organization. Connect them to the people that you are serving by talking about the changes in their lives. These gatherings can be held by board members and others connected to the organization. They do not have to be complicated; in fact, often, the simpler they are, the better.
At this gathering, individuals will have an opportunity to learn about the organization or ministry. It will also be a comfortable environment where questions can be asked and answers provided. However, at this gathering, you will not ask people for money. Think of it this way….you are developing a relationship, just getting to know the person, building a friendship.
After determining who to invite, the next question is then what is going to happen at the invite. First, you need to be honest about the reason for the gathering. Simply tell those who are being invited that Mr. and Mrs. So and So are hosting a small gathering at their home to have the Executive Director of XYZ Organization share with a small group about the exciting things happening at the organization. We promise that you will not be asked for money. At the end of the evening, if you want to learn more, we will be scheduling individual appointments.
Once the gathering is over, spend some time making some personal notes about the people that you met. What were their interests? How were they connected to the host/hostess? Do they know other people connected to the organization? Were they particularly interested in one aspect of the organization’s work? Then, the very next day, get a handwritten notecard in the mail to everyone who attended thanking them for their time. The notecard also provides you with an opportunity to remind them that you will be contacting them to schedule an individual appointment (or whatever you agreed on at the gathering).
Know that building a donor base takes time and energy. It does not happen overnight, as any strong relationship takes time and energy to build. Building a donor base in this manner allows you to build relationships that will go beyond a single, one-time donation. Developing relationships with your donors allows you to provide opportunities for them to make donations aligned with the passions and commitments of their hearts.
Want to build a strong donor base but have no idea where to begin? Contact us, we can help you get started.