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How To Build An Effective Donor Outreach Strategy

Author: Adie M.
donor outreach

As a nonprofit, donors are the backbone of your organization. So, it's important to attract new donors and work to maintain your current ones. Achieving this all stems from a well-planned donor outreach strategy.

By planning effectively, you will be in a position to better engage with your donors and attract new donors. It also assists with showcasing your nonprofit's key initiatives. These are all aspects that are essential to the success of your organization.

Below we take a look at all there is to know about a donor outreach strategy.

What Is Donor Outreach?

Intrinsic to the success of any nonprofit organization is community engagement. By creating a community around your cause, you are able to reach potential donors who fund and assist your projects.

Donor outreach is just that. It entails structuring a plan to better engage with current and potential donors so that you get the funding and recognition your organization needs. In other words, it’s any action you take to connect with potential donors in the hope of soliciting their support. This can include emails, phone calls, social media, etc. 

How To Build A Good Donor Outreach Strategy

Ensuring the success of your nonprofit starts with a well-thought-out, relatable, and informative donor outreach strategy. Here’s how to build an effective outreach strategy to help your NPO achieve its goals and attract new donors. 

Carry Out An Evaluation

As a starting point, it's always best to carry out an evaluation. Take a look at your previous donor outreach strategy and try to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your nonprofit organization.

It's also important to take an inventory of your funds and assets available as this will determine your goals. Lastly, when conducting your evaluation, identify what aspects are restricting your outreach.

Conducting this evaluation at the start will show your team exactly where you are falling short and what requires focus when it comes to your outreach strategy. This evaluation essentially sets the tone for the whole strategy and should be used as a guide throughout the planning process. 

Set Primary Outreach Goals

Once you identify your funds available and areas where your nonprofit may fall short, this is the time to set your goals. Setting out clear, attainable goals can make your outreach strategy  10 times more successful than if you don't set goals.

So, be sure to take the time to really consider what you wish to gain from the donor outreach strategy. For example, setting goals like 'gain more support' or 'increase funding' are typical goals that often do very little to take your organization further. Every nonprofit works to gain support and increase funding.

Rather, set goals that are stepping stones to assist with gaining more support and increasing funding. For example, ‘prioritize engagement opportunities’ so that you are able to get to know your donors better. You may also want to increase your interaction with your donors on your chosen platform. 

These are seemingly small goals, but they do far more to assist your NPO than setting one big goal with no direction. 

So, be sure to do the following when setting goals:

  • Identify a priority for your donor outreach strategy.
  • Set smaller sub-goals that can be done daily to work towards your main goal. 
  • Outline how you will measure progress toward your goals. 

Identifying target donors

Define Your Ideal  Prospects

Your donor outreach strategy should not target just anyone and everyone. It's unlikely that your strategy will lead to success if you don't focus on engaging the right people.

So, when you start your plans for your donor outreach strategy, it's important that you  define your prospects. Who are they exactly? Understanding who your ideal donors are will help you to focus your donor strategy on certain demographics and communities that align with your cause.

Some tips and tricks to help you define your prospects are the following:

  • Have set outcomes and tailor your prospects to those outcomes. 
  • Make sure your database only has the necessary contacts.
  • Gather data from public sources.
  • Once you have your data, categorize it according to high, medium, and low prospects.
  • Set out a plan to engage and attract the identified prospects.

Define Your Channels

When it comes to getting your donor strategy out into the world, there are so many great channels to do so. But, once again, the success of your strategy depends on utilizing the correct one. This will largely depend on who your campaign targets and their age group.

For example, if you are targeting a younger age group, social media is a great channel. But, keep in mind that you will also need to narrow down what social media platform you use. Instagram may be appropriate to reach some donors while Facebook may be more effective in reaching others.

Other forms of channels include email, traditional media like the newspaper or direct mail, and phone calls and text messages.

Make A List Of Things To Do

Creating lists is a great place to start with your strategy especially if you are feeling overwhelmed. So, once you have evaluated, set your goals, and chosen your channel, set out a list of the activities needed to achieve the strategy.

For example, you may want to partner with someone affiliated with the cause or reach out to previous supporters. These are steps that require action to achieve the ultimate end goal. Other examples include:

Track Your Results

Keeping track of your results is the final and most important step. This shows whether your strategy works and whether your goals were reached. It also assists with the planning of strategies to come as you can identify your strengths, weaknesses, and what attracts your donors.

For example, it's important to track the success of your chosen platform. If you have chosen social media, how have your followers interacted with your posts? Did you receive likes, comments, and shares? If you used outreach emails, did you receive responses? 

You should also take a look at whether you received any new supporters and if so how they came to hear about your NPO. 

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It's clear that at the heart of any successful donor outreach strategy is good planning. Setting out clear attainable goals and the steps needed to achieve them will turn any outreach strategy into a success.

So, if you’re looking to gain more support or engage better with current supporters, be sure to follow this informative guide on building an effective donor outreach strategy.