Home – 9 Tips for Boosting Non-Profit Fundraising

9 Tips for Boosting Non-Profit Fundraising

Posted on 08-22-2016 by Kari Abitbol

 “Americans are embracing philanthropy at a higher level than ever before,” said Giving USA Foundation Chair W. Keith Curtis in a statement accompanying the release of the Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015 in June. The report also notes that giving in 2015 set a record for the second year in a row and very large gifts—at least those that revealed publically—hit $3.3 billion. For development professions involved in fundraising for non-profit organizations or higher education institutions, the pressure to deliver positive results climbs commensurate with others’ success. What can give you an edge in this competitive environment? Find out in an upcoming webinar on “Navigating the Changing Landscapes of Wealth & Philanthropy.”


How to Identify and Inspire Donor Prospects

Here are some practices that can help you find, engage and motivate charitable giving. Let’s start by looking at how to find prospects, particularly high-value donors.


Target specific content source types in your research.

When you’re looking for wealthy donor prospects, there are several critical sources of information to consider:

1.       Check SEC filings to find transactions or security ownership by individuals, companies or alumni. If possible, set alerts to notify you of events related to stock transactions for specific donors.

2.       Target business titles that are associated with high net worth such as C-suite executives, doctors, lawyers and investors.

3.       Look into prospects’ assets to see if they encompass property associated with wealth such as multiple real estate holdings, luxury or exotic cars, yachts and aircraft.

4.       Check affiliations. Many high-value donors serve on the boards of foundations or corporations.

Much of this information can be found in specialized databases such as Larkspur Prospects of Wealth® or Corporate Affiliations™, as well as in public records.


Use segmentation to improve personalization in your prospecting and current donor communications. It’s Marketing 101, especially in the digital age; you need to connect with prospects and donors with relevant messages on the right channel at the right moment. A Hubspot blog offers a variety of suggestions to improve fundraising using segmentation, including:

5.       Communication frequency—Appending this information to your database ensures that you don’t go from a great cause to a great big pain because you’re contacting prospects and donors too often.  One approach for current donors—ask. A tool like SurveyMonkey makes it easy to create a simple questionnaire that can be distributed to your donor list. As the blog points out, “Segmenting donors in this manner allows you to plan communications based on donor expectations and increases the probability that the donor will accept the communication when it's received.

6.       Communication method—Make preferences about communication methods part of your survey too. Email may be convenient, but your fundraising outreach needs to include other channels for reaching your audience—text, social media or direct mail.  This approach, the blog points out, also helps you save money because you aren’t wasting postage on mailers to donor prospects who prefer other contact methods.

7.       Preferred causes—With some research, you can also better understand the types of missions that prospective donors prefer. By looking at charitable giving histories, for example, you can spot trends and emphasize how giving to your organization or institution furthers a specific mission. For instance, if you can see from a donor’s history that programs related to women and girls strike a chord, then communicate how your mission supports that interest. This type of segmentation helps you make emotional connections with your donors and prospects.

8.       Affiliations—In addition to looking at affiliations as a potential wealth indicator, you can look at a prospect or donors affiliations in relation to how they fit in with your own mission. You can also look at current donors’ affiliations with your own organization. Do they volunteer in addition to giving? Do they share your social media posts with their own audiences? By understanding their level of involvement through affiliations, you can fine-tune your messaging to increase its appeal with individual donors.

9.       Year-over-Year Giving—For donors in your current database, segmenting by giving status allows you to customize messaging. For instance, new and lapsed donors need more cultivation to increase interest. Meanwhile, retained donors need to be nurtured based on whether they gave more, gave less or gave the same. If they gave more, messages need to revolve around thanks and stewardship; If they gave less or the same, messages need to inspire renewed engagement.

Are you already using some of these tips? Do you have other tips that have proved effective in the past? We’d love to know; share your thoughts in the comments section!


3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Join us for an upcoming webinar on adopting an agile approach for effective fundraising.
  2. Arrange a personal demo to see the wide variety of content types available in LexisNexis® for Development Professionals.
  3. Share this blog to keep the dialogue going with your colleagues and contacts. 

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