Since it’s the season of giving, you may be interested to know that there are lots of places to look if you want to find new prospective donors to your organization. The lovely trails that philanthropy leaves behind can be a good indicator towards people, companies, and foundations that may share an interest in your nonprofit’s cause.
One of the best ways to find that shared interest is to look at supporters to organizations with a similar (or allied) mission to your nonprofit.
That effort can be a labor of love, actually, but some of the philanthropic data aggregators (including Donorsearch, iWave, and Noza) make the job much easier if you have the budget to subscribe to one or more of them. Search by region and/or interest area, and a good list will quickly come together for you so thankfully you won’t have to burn the midnight oil for 8 days and nights!
If you don’t have the do-re-mi to afford one of these resources, there are still good ways of finding philanthropic giving, it just takes a bit more work. I polled my team this week, and here are some of the ideas we came up with for you…
Make a list, check it twice
First, create a list of other nonprofits in your area that have similar or related missions.
Start specific and then pull out to a wider circle to find allied nonprofits. So for example, if you work for a red-nosed reindeer rescue organization, your specific group would be wildlife rescue groups in, say, a 50-mile radius (or 100 miles, or state-wide, or whatever you want your limit to be). The larger circle might include environmental organizations, animal shelters, conservation, botanical gardens, etc. within that same radius.
Enlist the brainstorming help of others in your office to build this list. The added benefit of compiling this – beyond helping you develop a list of prospects now – is that it will give you a much better idea of the landscape in which your nonprofit is operating as you go forward.
This will be a list that you may want to add to over time, because – depending on what data you collect – it can help you see that landscape more clearly. For example, what programs that you offer differentiate you from peer organizations? Do they (also?) have a developed major gifts program? Could they be a resource or collaborating partner for certain efforts or programs?
Next, gather annual reports
Okay, so now that you have the list of nonprofits, it’s time to apply some elbow grease, but don’t worry, after a few minutes you’ll be speeding down the track faster than the Polar Express.
Not all nonprofits publish their annual list of donors, but many do, sometimes as part of their year-end report. These are as fascinating to look at for prospect researchers like me as a donor list on a museum wall. You’ll not only find the names of individuals, but companies and foundations (including donor advised funds!) that may share an interest in your nonprofit’s mission.
What you’ll have is a strong and growing list of names. What you won’t have is their contact information, of course, but more often than not major donors to nonprofits tend to be active business people and volunteers in their communities, so hopefully finding that business connection should be relatively easy.
Newsletters are great, too
This time of year you may be looking forward to a good friend’s holiday newsletter that fills you in on the activities of people you know (as well as some you’ve probably never heard of before). Nonprofit newsletters are the exact same source of delight – you may see reports of some people you know and be treated to details of the wonderful life of another you’ve never heard of before.
While you’re on the website of each nonprofit looking for donor lists in their annual report, check and see if the nonprofit publishes a newsletter. Frequently an organization will spotlight one or more of their significant supporters, and these pieces can give you an idea if the donor may also be interested in your cause as well.
Look for the elves
Every great endeavor requires helpers to assist in the management and oversight of its programs. Nonprofit board members and foundation board members are these helpers (and quite frequently instigators) that sustain and propel organizations forward.
Candid and ProPublica’s terrific Nonprofit Explorer are two great places to find nonprofit and charitable foundation board members in the United States. For England and Wales, visit the UK government’s Charity Commission website. In Scotland, check out the site for the OCSR, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.
Here at HBG, we find publications like the Boston Business Journal invaluable for the profiles of executives who frequently talk quite animatedly about their philanthropic interests in the interview. Check out the Business Journals website here.
Look for interviews in your local city or town’s publication. Here in Boston we have Boston magazine of course, but even my local Watertown TAB profiles local citizens each week who (more often than not) talk about their philanthropic involvements.
And finally, search engines
It’s definitely a hit-or-miss strategy, but go to the search engines of your choice such as Google, DuckDuckGo and Bing (we recommend that you use at least two different search engines for all searches) and try a string like:
(~donation OR ~gift OR ~donor OR ~trustee)(~environment OR ~conservation OR ~wildlife)
Limit the date range to the past year or two so that you get the most current donation news.
These are just a few of our favorite things – what tactics do you use to find philanthropic gifts?
Happy holidays! Sincere wishes from all of us at HBG to you and yours for a New Year of health and joy.