Getting New Donors: 12 Proven Techniques for Nonprofits
Attracting new donors is key to growing your nonprofit’s pool of supporters and expanding your programs. These twelve techniques can help your organization attract donors and develop long-term relationships with them:
- Go mobile.
- Launch branded campaigns.
- Use captivating photos.
- Be transparent with prospective donors.
- Draw attention to opportunities to give.
- Use a secure fundraising method.
- Use donation tiers.
- Simplify the donation process.
- Provide a recurring donation option.
- Ask new donors to opt-in to email messages.
- Share your progress on social media.
- Always show appreciation.
As you employ these strategies, keep a close eye on your donor retention strategy. Stewarding the relationships you have with current and new donors can help you build a dedicated, loyal base of supporters.
1. Go mobile.
On average, over 60% of web traffic is from mobile users. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, prioritize making it accessible and easy to use for supporters using their smartphones or tablets. Most importantly, ensure that these users can conveniently donate to your organization from their mobile devices.
Having a website with a responsive design—a design that fits and functions on any device size—is one of the most important parts of creating a mobile-friendly site. Because this design can adapt to any screen size, it will work for any generation of smartphones, tablets, or desktops. Remember to make sure images and buttons are sized properly for users to view and click them and that large file sizes don’t slow down page load speeds.
2. Launch branded campaigns.
Your brand is your mission’s signature. It’s how your supporters relate to and remember your cause. Create a strong, visual brand that remains cohesive across all media channels.
Your organization’s name often forms the first impression new donors have of your nonprofit. However, organizations operating in the same field often have similar names. Help your brand stand out by pairing your nonprofit’s name with a memorable logo, specific brand colors, and custom images.
Feature the branded elements you want supporters to recognize and remember (like your name and logo) prominently on your website, outreach emails, direct mail, social media, and any other channel you use to reach new donors.
3. Use captivating photos.
Don’t underestimate the power of an image to help tell your campaign’s story. Photos can communicate the important work you do without a single word. Not only do they show what the prospective donor’s contribution can accomplish, but they also provide visual interest. With the right photos, you can capture prospective donors’ attention and keep them reading your brochures, newsletters, social media posts, and other messages.
4. Be transparent with prospective donors.
People want to know how your organization spends donation money and how their gifts will make an impact. While there are specific legal transparency guidelines that require your organization to publicly disclose information like tax forms, you should strive to go beyond required legal transparency.
Demonstrate ethical transparency for new donors by:
- Using storytelling to provide examples of how gifts are used.
- Regularly updating information about your programs, staff members, tax forms, and executive compensation figures on your website.
- Creating internal policies and procedures to keep staff accountable and streamline financial practices.
You don’t need to bombard each new donor that visits your website’s homepage or is on your mailing list with all of this information at once. However, incorporating pieces of your story into marketing materials or making your annual returns accessible through your website can help reassure hesitant new donors.
5. Draw attention to opportunities to give.
Your impactful website and effective online fundraising campaigns should aim to not just teach supporters about your cause but lead them towards taking a desired action, like donating.
Your goal should be to make these actions impossible to miss. They shouldn’t be intrusive or demanding, but prioritize making them clear and obvious. Add links to your donation page on marketing materials, social media posts, and other pages on your site to drive curious prospects to make a gift.
6. Use a Secure Fundraising Method
The platform you use to collect online donations should be secure so donors feel safe giving to your organization. To reduce the risk of stolen credit card information, look for software that processes donations through secure payment processors that don’t store debit or credit card information. Platforms that are PCI-DSS certified are also a good choice for protecting your supporters’ financial privacy.
7. Use donation tiers.
Donation tiers with set values can help first-time donors gauge what the “appropriate” amount to donate is. You can also give your suggested giving amounts creative names that tie their donation to a concrete service or item. Keep in mind that some prospective donors will want to make a fully custom donation that isn’t represented by your tiers. For these supporters, include a way for them to enter their own giving amount.
8. Simplify the donation process.
With online donation forms, keep in mind that less is more. When you ask for too much information, you risk donors abandoning the form halfway through. Your donation form should request a minimal amount of information from the donor.
Their credit card information and email address are the main pieces of information you need to gather through a donation form. While other data like their address or occupation can be useful for things like your marketing strategy, you’ll have other opportunities to gather it (especially if you nurture the new donor relationship).
9. Provide a recurring donation option.
When nonprofits attract new donors, an average of 3 out of 4 of these supporters will leave without making another donation. Adding a convenient recurring gift option to your donation form can help your nonprofit secure a second (and third and fourth!) donation from new donors’ first engagement.
To encourage this additional involvement, add a box to the donation form that supporters can check to make their donation a monthly, recurring gift.
10. Ask new donors to opt-in to email messages.
Once someone donates to your campaign, they should receive an email with their donation receipt and a personalized thank-you message.
To encourage new donors to stay connected with your organization, you could also request that they opt-in to receive your email updates. Make it convenient for them to sign up by providing the necessary link to do so.
11. Share your progress on social media.
Social media updates help show how much more support you need and recognize the support you’ve already received. Take a screenshot or create a graphic showing your campaign’s progress. Then, share it on social media to show supporters how close you are to hitting your fundraising goal.
You can also create a donation tracker or thermometer that provides a visual illustration of how close you are to your goal and post updates about it to your social media account.
12. Always show appreciation.
Make sure each new donor feels valued and appreciated after they make a gift to your organization. You can show appreciation by thanking your donors in the following ways:
- A confirmation page that says “thank you” after a donation is made
- An email receipt with a personalized “thank you” message and additional information
- A thank-you gift or invitation to a donor appreciation event
- Messages with inclusive, donor-centered language
When you acknowledge support from new donors, you can increase retention of new donors and help lead them to get involved in other ways like volunteering.
Attracting new donors is critical to expanding your organization’s offerings and reaching more beneficiaries. Your nonprofit will need to consistently work to develop and improve a strong new donor acquisition strategy. Remember to carefully steward each new donor relationship to foster future donations and engagement.