…even if you don’t have a list!

Our most precious resource as nonprofits and fundraisers are the people who support our missions – our donor prospect base. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to reach for our cause, make those changes in the community, or have anyone to even talk to about our cause. If you’re going to be successful in having an impact with fundraising, you need people to ask.

But what if you don’t have enough supporters? What if your cause doesn’t know the right people? What if your donors have fatigue – They’ve come through time and time again to see that your cause has resources and you cringe at the thought of asking again for even more help?

Or maybe you’re adding a program – something new and different. Your cause is growing and you need more support. You might be new – just getting started and need to know where to start to build your list of potential supporters.

Growing your donor prospect base is essential for the health of your organization. But it remains an often overlooked process in fundraising. It can be frustrating to face a situation like: “We’ve already asked everyone we know,” or “Our board members have already connected us, there isn’t anyone else.”

Here are two never-fail strategies to build your prospect list and grow your donor base.

1) Ask for advice.

Donor Prospect BaseAsk people you respect who they think would be interested in your cause and what you were doing if they knew about it. Don’t ask someone who they think you should include in your list or who they think would give you money, this doesn’t describe what you’re really looking for. You are looking for people who would be good connections. It doesn’t matter if someone has the ability to give your cause money if they are not interested. You’ll be surprised at the thoughtful reactions people will give you.

Once you get in the swing of asking who others think would be interested, you’ll begin to include that question in every conversation you have about your cause. It’s fun! And you’ll get connected with some really interesting people. Now just imagine what would happen if everyone in your organization was empowered to ask that question. You’ll gather a good-sized list of potential supporters in no time.

2)    Make a task force of volunteers to review your lists and make recommendations.

Get your volunteers focused on suggesting those who should know about your cause, and would be Donor Prospect Baseinterested in what you’re doing.  Make this a short-lived task force with an end-of-project date and a defined number of meetings. The trick here is to build a nice mix of people on a fairly small force. Include some who have been volunteering for your cause for a while, some board members, some donors, and invite new members from the community you respect to help with this strategic task. You can even get funky and have multiple task forces in operation!

When you invite others to participate in a tactical task, one that uses their own personal insight, you engage new people on a whole new level. It’s a terrific way to inject some new energy into your supporters and have some fun. Especially if you include an enjoyable social aspect to your meetings. Soon, you will have refined your existing lists, identified new people to contact and increased your list membership exponentially!

Building your donor and prospect base doesn’t have to be an onerous task or a roadblock to successful fundraising. It can be the fast and furious process that launches your cause’s fundraising efforts.

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