10 incredibly popular, but time-wasting ways you won’t find the donors you want

Uh-oh. Your Board is brainstorming ways to get more donors for your organization. I can almost guarantee their list of treat ideas will coincide a lot with this one from the Get Fully Funded Blog at 10 Places You Won’t Find Donors for Your Nonprofit:

  1. Neighborhoods with expensive homes. Guess what: having more money than most people has almost no correlation with philanthropic behavior. People of all income levels give to things they care about or have a connection with. It has nothing to do with the value of their home! The neighborhoods where your donors live are the neighborhoods where your would-be donors live. Regardless of the wealth level.
  2. Other places where you think rich people hang out. Same problem. Wealth and generosity are two different things.
  3. An event in a fancy venue. Events are not a sure-fire way to raise money. But trying to make them exclusive to wealthy people only narrows the scope of who will show up.
  4. A luncheon with church pastors. Sure the faith leaders should be interested in promoting your cause. But they are far more concerned about keeping their own organization going.
  5. Your local Chamber of Commerce. A lot of people think businesses are a great source of charitable giving. Actually, they aren’t. And almost all business giving is actually driven by individuals who are giving through a business for tax reasons.
  6. Foundation spam-a-thon. Foundations can be a great source of income. But not all fo them. Research your grants before you send them out. You’ll find those most likely to respond and avoid wasting time and money on the others.
  7. Product sale customer list. Buying stuff is a different transaction from charitable giving. Buyers are no more likely to give than any other random group of people.
  8. The latest social media platform. Well, your donors aren’t there. Yet, or more likely ever. If you have a strong following on an established social platform, work it. Let someone else figure out the latest new platform.
  9. Networking events. Attending networking events can be a smart career move. It’s a terrible fundraising tactic. Don’t be the weirdo who’s hitting up people for donations at an event that’s really about career advancement.
  10. Celebrities known for generosity. It’s not going to happen!

How should you find new donors?

It’s not glamorous. There’s no shortcut. You need to find ordinary donors and build relationships with them. Those big-dollar generous people are “hiding” among all the low-dollar generous people. (More than 90% of major donors start out as typical direct mail donors.)


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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