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How to Identify and Engage Your Donors & Prospects. Nonprofit MBA Podcast 3.29

Summary: In today’s Nonprofit MBA podcast guest, Sybil Ackerman-Munson from Do Your Good LLC speaks with Stephen Halasnik from Financing Solutions about how to identify and engage donors and prospects. They talk about the five key steps Sybil uses for nonprofits to be effective when trying to engage their donors and prospects.

The First Step: The Types of Donors

There are five key steps that Sybil points out for nonprofits to be effective. The first one is clear about the donor you are talking to, this is the most important step. There are three types of donors that you come across. Sustainer, campaigner, and launcher donors. A sustainer donor is a very stereotypical type of donor, someone that falls in love with your nonprofit. A campaigner donor cares about some type of issue and wants change for that specific issue. However, that campaigner donor will not care about your nonprofit as a sustainer donor does. A launcher donor wants to fill a gap with your nonprofit.

With these different types of donors, you should figure out what type of donor they areengaging your donors based on their characteristics and what they want out of the nonprofit. You usually have all three donors in your nonprofit and things will be different which each donor. For example, if you are trying to hold a meeting with the different types of donors, a sustainer donor meeting will be entirely different than a campaigner donor meeting.

Does it Help to Categorize Donors?

Yes, your business categorizing different types of donors could be very helpful in the long run. Sybil spends a lot of time with nonprofits explaining how these specific types of donors can be a fit to their nonprofit and how they get relay their message. Nonprofits should be able to figure out what type of donor they are dealing with so they know how to talk to these individuals.

Nonprofits and Donors

Some donors aren’t even clear to nonprofits about what type of donor they even are. Some donors may think they are sustainer donors when in reality they are campaigning. For example, some donors will tell you they love your nonprofit and question why aren’t they doing things that’ll make that type of donor happy. Nonprofits should get a heads up about what type of donor they are. However, it depends on the structure of the nonprofit and their motivations that really drive what type of donors they might get. The donor and nonprofit should have the best communication as well.

The Second Step: To Be Relevant

As a nonprofit, it is very important to track the news and know exactly what is going on. A problem that people come across is getting too many emails from a nonprofit about the news in general. So what nonprofits should do is send personal emails straight to that specific donor about the news they’ll be interested in. Then the donor would want to know what the nonprofit is doing to change that issue.

You can also forward emails to other people if it is the same type of news that the donor is interested in. You have to scan the news and reach out to donors about that news, you cannot assume the donors know that information, to begin with. This is how donors will determine if they want to stay with you or not because if you don’t provide them with updates they’ll assume that you are not keeping up with the news. This would make them not want to associate with your nonprofit

The Third Step: To Be Real

With this step, you cannot treat the donors like a transaction. You have to be real with them and treat them like actual people. People with experience ask the donor for advice and get to know them first. Another reason that doesn’t work is that some people don’t write checks with their partners as opposed to writing them alone. To be a successful fundraiser you have to bring people in and hold a conversation.

Nonprofits have to lead in with talking about what issue they care about first then try to get a donor to problem solve the issue with them. The person who talks the most is usually the one who is trying to inform the other, they are at risk of loss for what they are trying to accomplish.

The Fourth and Fifth Steps

This step is about being empathetic towards your donors. You should try getting that ideal person you want to have funding your organization. Nonprofits should try to tailor their asks, publications, and information towards one ideal donor. This allows you to leverage a lot more money as a nonprofit.

The last step is to be plentiful and talk about your work from a place of abundance. The best fundraisers talk about what their group is doing overall and the key things they are hooked into depending on what type of donors they are talking to. When you have a big vision and pushing things forward, you’ll get a lot more energy from donors.

Hardest Part about Implementing these Steps

If the nonprofit you have is small or medium-sized, you have to do everything. This is because of the fact you do not have a big developer arm. Creating and keeping that long-term institutional memory of donors over many years is also hard to do. Relationships over the years are also a tough task because employees might find a bigger company to work for. Even if there is staff turnover or executive director turnover if the nonprofit board is strong and tries to fix the problem right away that is an important aspect of it.

About Sybil Ackerman-Munson from Do Your Good LLC

Sybil Ackerman-Munson is the President of Do Your Good ™ LLC. Sybil has over 20 years of experience as a nonprofit professional and Foundation Adviser, and she offers step-by-step guides into philanthropy and charitable giving through her online course and her Do Your Good Podcast. This September, Sybil is launching her Crack the Code Course, a field guide to successful philanthropy

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