Properly identifying your donors is an essential step in creating and strengthening relationships. It will allow you to create the most targeted and complete list of potential donors possible.
The best starting point is with people you know or who are already connected to your organization or work. Start with those closest and work outwards:
- current board members;
- current donors and patrons;
- previous donors;
- subscribers or members;
- business partners;
- previous board members.
Brainstorm with your board, staff, volunteers, subscribers, and friends - it can yield unexpected and exciting ideas and can help in getting everyone motivated. If you’re an individual artist, brainstorm with friends and others who are very familiar with your work.
…is as much personal information as possible on the people you’ve targeted. This can often be found in the public domain:
- the media: including newspapers, radio, TV, websites, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Who’s Who, Wikipedia, online dictionaries of biographies, etc.;
- annual reports of similar organizations (including other non-profit organizations in your local area) – it’s possible that donors supporting other organizations or projects may be interested in supporting the work that you do;
- market surveys and questionnaires undertaken by your organization;
- people who have provided positive feedback about your work through conversations, letters, comments on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter;
- your existing contacts - consider who you know, who your board knows, look to who you regularly work with such as board members, friends, subscribers, ticket buyers, special event attendees, and ask for their ideas and advice;
- documents related to financial services, property searches, share registries, directors’ information in annual reports, business reports, and market research.
You should also review the information you have on existing donors to identify opportunities to increase the value of their contributions through strengthening your relationship with them.
Capture as much relevant information as possible including:
- spouse and family details;
- personal preferences, history of association with you or your organization;
- current or previous roles with your organization, e.g. board member or volunteer;
- giving history (date, amount, reason, prompt for gift, vehicle for giving, program specific, lifetime value)
- capacity to give;
- any other projects, causes or organizations to which they donate or with which they are affiliated.
The best research is personal research. Talk and listen carefully to someone who knows the potential donor and gather as much personal information as possible. Then, make contact yourself or have a board or team member speak with them.
"Connect with donors - a guide for the arts to build relationships with donors", Australia Business Arts Foundation, 2012