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How to Find New Donors: 7 Ways to Attract and Acquire

8 min read
March 08, 2024
Shannon Whitehead headshot
Shannon Whitehead
Content Strategist, Neon One
a diverse group of people gathered outside

Finding new donors is a lot like making new friends (with the exception of the data analysis part). You need to know what type of person you’re looking for, give them reasons to engage with you, and continue nurturing the relationship.

It’s awesome that a consistent, loyal donor base continues to support your organization—donor retention is crucially important for sustaining a thriving nonprofit. But so is getting out there to find, attract, and acquire new donors. In this article, you’ll find a ton of actionable strategies you can use to find new donors for your nonprofit. 

The First Step to Finding New Donors

When you’re looking to attract new donors, you should start by doing everything you can to meet new people and convert them to your cause, right?

Not yet! The first step to finding new donors is to understand your current donors. Once you know what motivates them to give and stay connected with your nonprofit, you’re better equipped to find more people like them who are most likely to become donors.

Here’s what you can do to understand your current donors better.

1. Conduct a Data Analysis

Thanks to your nonprofit CRM, you can collect all types of information about your donors—where they live, how old they are, where they work, which campaign initiated their first donation, and more. Analyzing this data is a valuable exercise, as it can tell you the type of people who are most likely to get involved with your organization and allow you to create helpful donor personas. What are the donor demographics your organization typically attracts?

2. Segment Donors Based on History

Donor segmentation is powerful. It can help nonprofits communicate more effectively with supporters and build stronger donor relationships. By segmenting your donors based on their donation history (or their history in other areas, such as event participation or volunteer hours), you can learn a lot about which types of donors tend to give most consistently, which events are most popular, and more. What trends and patterns do you notice? Which donor preferences stand out?

3. Nurture Current Donors with Personalization

Recognizing the value of donor retention is an important precursor to finding new donors. When you understand who your current donors are and what motivates them to donate, your organization can develop a deeper appreciation for their loyalty and build an onboarding process for new donors accordingly. You don’t want to simply convince a new donor to give one time—you want to welcome new donors in a way that nurtures a long-term connection with them.

You can nurture your relationship with current donors through personalized communication: tailor your communications to individual donors’ giving history and personal details, regularly say “thank you,” consistently send updates about your nonprofit’s impact, and seek your loyal donors’ feedback as your organization grows.

How to Find New Donors for Your Nonprofit

Your organization’s best donor acquisition strategy can vary based on several factors, such as your target audience and budget. Below, you’ll discover tips to find new donors, including helpful ways to analyze your data using both qualitative and quantitative research.

1. Go Online

The internet can be a great place to find new donors, from your nonprofit’s website to your social media presence. Developing an SEO strategy will help potential supporters find your website, as will staying active on social media. But new donors won’t just show up on your social media profile (unless by chance or you’re running ads)—you’ll need to create compelling content that your followers want to share and consistently engage with people through comments.

Finally, remember to include persuasive calls to action on your website and social media posts. This will give people a clear next step and help you turn website visitors and social media followers into newsletter subscribers, blog readers, and, eventually, new donors.

2. Identify Data-Backed Opportunities

As you look for opportunities to build your donor base, you will want to collect and analyze as much information as you can. Why? Because your best bet for successfully finding new donors is to use your data to identify these opportunities.

A great CRM solution should provide you with an at-a-glance view of your organization’s current performance. For example, Neon CRM’s Mission Control dashboard pulls system data to give you an overview of your nonprofit’s performance. That way, your most important metrics are always one click away.

Having these numbers readily available can provide you with the additional insights needed to make better decisions. You can also use this information to set KPIs and keep track of your donor acquisition progress.

3. Translate Numbers Into Insights  

When it comes to finding new donors, your nonprofit’s data can confirm what has worked in the past and hint at what might work in the future.

Consider this example. You’ve pulled your data and found that a month ago, you experienced a significant spike in your new donor acquisition rate. What happened one month ago? Your organization hosted an on-site event where potential donors could meet with staff and hear constituent testimonials. This shows that the event inspired new people to invest in your mission!

Analyzing spikes and dips in your donor acquisition stats can give you a deeper understanding of what works to find and acquire new donors, making deciding on the next steps much easier. Keep a close eye on this data to discover how to best engage your supporters.

4. Ask Questions

In addition to data, good old-fashioned questions and answers have their place. This is where in-person conversations or donor surveys come in handy. Reach out to your donors—first-time donors, long-term donors, recurring donors—and find out what compelled them to donate the first time. This is a simple act, but it can be another way to learn which donor acquisition efforts are worth repeating.

5. Create Donor Personas

A donor persona is a fictional representation of a particular segment of your audience. Personas are built using the insights gathered from your qualitative research and can be supplemented using quantitative data

So, how do donor personas help with identifying potential new donors? When your audience is clearly segmented, it’s easier to understand how those segments typically discover your organization and turn into donors.

Once you understand which donor personas you’re targeting, optimizing this information is the key to finding new donors. 

Click here for a deeper dive into establishing donor personas.

6. Build Strategic Partnerships

Similar to how getting a new job or meeting someone to date often comes down to who you know, your network can help you find new donors. There are several ways strategic partnerships can be a catalyst for onboarding new donors who weren’t aware of your cause previously.

First, you could collaborate with other nonprofits whose missions intersect with yours. This needn’t be a cause for competition over donors but a way to accomplish more together. For example, you can throw a much larger community event when multiple nonprofits are involved.

You can also leverage the appeal of corporate social responsibility to establish corporate sponsorships with businesses in your community. Remember to highlight the mutual benefits, which include—but aren’t limited to—a positive reputation for the corporation and a way for your organization to reach new people.

7. Host Events

Hosting a public event can bring new donors right to your organization’s door. Even if you restrict events to donors or members, you can allow them to invite friends, family, and colleagues.

Whether you host online events, fundraising events, or educational classes, planning engaging and impactful events is a great way to meet new people who may be interested in supporting your mission. You can use these events to showcase your success stories and impact, spotlight or interview long-term donors, or simply give people material with information about your nonprofit as they leave.

Turn New Donors into Long-term Donors

Combining your quantitative data with the qualitative insights your CRM provides will give you a more comprehensive understanding of how to find and attract potential new donors. 

After looking through the data, you may even find names in your database who have not yet donated to your cause but have interacted with you in other ways. Examples include in-person or online event attendees and your newsletter list. These are potential new donors, too!

We all know that the hard work isn’t over once you find those new donors—you need to cultivate lasting donor relationships that grow over time.

That’s why we’ve put together a moves management guide to help you develop a strategy to move new donors to deeper levels of engagement with your nonprofit.

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