Fundraising Suspect List

Is the contact database for your nonprofit organization as big or as good as you need? If you answered yes, you are among the few and the proud. Most organizations that we talk to don’t have anywhere near the number of quality contacts needed to move people from being a suspect, to a prospect, and ultimately a donor in a volume that can sustain their organization. This is about direct marketing and in direct marketing, it’s all about the numbers.

Fundraising Suspect ListMost organizations get their contacts from a variety of sources – volunteers, events, public speaking and more. These are all great and you should keep working those sources. But we think you should add a few more arrows to your quiver using your website and social media channels. When done well, it is a great way to get suspects coming to you and giving you their contact information thus growing your direct marketing database. This is called inbound marketing.

At the core or hub is your website and/or blog. The object is to use social media channels to point people to your site(s). When people click on the links you provide in Twitter tweets, Facebook posts, Linkedin posts, and Pinterest pins, they will be taken to a landing page on your site. A landing page is a stand alone web page with no navigation on it. It has content to request contact information and a form to capture it. That’s it. It’s a dead end. Either fill out the form or go back, there are no other options. This makes tracking the numbers very easy. How many people clicked on the link? How many people filled in the form? How many of them used valid information? There you have it.

Fundraising Suspect List

So how do you get this to work? Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Give in order to get.

Fundraising Suspect ListYou will be far more successful with inbound marketing by giving something of value to your donors on your landing pages in exchange for contact information. It could be an e-book about your cause, a whitepaper with a statistical analysis of your cause, a case study of your organization’s success, or anything else that your donors would value. By using something your donors value you can begin to qualify your suspects. If they are willing to exchange their contact info in order to get your gift, they are probably interested in your cause. So, give in order to get. Mix it up. Try a variety of offers and ask in a variety of ways until you figure out which combination gets the most conversions.

2. Ask for as little as you can.

Fundraising Suspect ListThis is a hard one for most organizations. Conventional wisdom is if we have someone filling out the form, get as much information about them as you can. Unfortunately, this is dead wrong. You will get far higher conversions by asking for as little information as possible in order to meet your goal. In most cases, your goal should be to get a name and email address so that you can continue the conversation. If that’s the case, ask for only their name and email address — nothing more. Every additional piece of information you ask for will significantly reduce your conversions and significantly increase your abandonments. Make the form easy to find with a compelling call to action and only ask for the data you absolutely must have for the next step in your marketing process.

3. Don’t automate the connection between your forms and your contact database.

Fundraising Suspect List

This one gets really hard for most organizations. Once you figure out how to be successful, your list is going to grow rapidly. You will be tempted to pipe the contents of the list directly into your contact database so that you don’t have to do it by hand. Don’t do it! In order to keep your contact data squeaky clean, which is an absolute must do, you need human eyes checking all of the fields for valid data. Your database will implode in a hurry if you start to get a bunch of folks who fill in First Name and Last Name with First and Last. You can make sure you are getting valid email addresses by sending the download link to them in an email rather than have it on a Thank You page following the landing page. I know it’s a major pain, but you will save yourself and your organization a ton of time and money by keeping your list clean. So far, the best way to do that is with a human being.

Use these three tips and you will grow your list in no time. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a whole host of other things that you can do with social media to grow your suspect list and get people started on their love affair with your cause.


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Hanna Cooper
Hanna Cooper

I so appreciate your dedication and tips to keeping your data squeaky clean - so important for mission based organizations like nonprofits to walk our talk in all types of ways, including our fundraising habits! Thanks for these tips!


Terrific list, Heidi! I especially like "give in order to get." Makes me think of the best fundraiser I know who has an incredible list of connections for his fundraising purposes. His approach is called "netgiving" vs. networking. Check out "It's Not Just Who You Know" by Tommy Spaulding.


These are great tips for building a strong lead capture system. Becoming great in this area takes a lot of trial - and -error (what does your target market want to get info about) but it is fun to try different things to see what sticks. Thanks for the tips!

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Nonprofit fundraising