Who really needs individual donors?

Why bother with individual donors, those people who make small contributions?

You do it because if you get enough of them, their donations add up, big.

During a recent fundraising conference, Lynn Boardman of Harvey McKinnon & Associates and Paul Klein of Indspire, an Indigenous-led nonprofit in Canada, talked about the benefits of building a base of individual donors, using Indspire, which gets 60 percent of its funding from individuals, as an example.

They emphasized the following steps:

  • Convince the board. With the annual budget, set a three-year goal for X percent of revenue from individual donors.
  • Purchase a database. The right fit matters.
  • Hire staff. Have clear responsibilities.
  • Make it easy for donors to give. No matter what the medium.
  • Recruit new donors. Research, develop a case, test, test, test.
  • Look at what others are doing.
  • Pick the right channels. But remember the importance of multi-channel fundraising.
  • Build your case for support. What makes this organization different? Why should they give?
  • Use creative testing/package testing. What’s working in the industry?
  • Say thank you in as many ways as possible.
  • Renew support.
  • Start a monthly giving program. The best prospects are direct mail donors.
  • Remember to ask for gifts in a will.
  • Measure and improve.