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6. Fundraising - Research

There are a few basic ways to do some research.  The first step is to visit your local library and look up groups similar to yours in your area as well as in other areas.  Who supports them?  The same groups of people may support your group.  If your non-profit consists of a few volunteers, you can find out what sort of people your non-profit appeals to by asking your volunteers a few questions:                                      

  • What tv shows do your watch?  What publications do you read?  What radio station do you listen to?
  • Where did you hear about our group?
  • Where do you go for entertainment?  What other groups do you belong to?
  • What appealed to you about this non-profit?

Even in a small group, you will hear similar responses.  These answers are important clues about what your donors are watching, where they are going, and what appeals to them. You can further establish your target donors by considering where people who believe in a cause or idea would go or what they would see.  Consider the following ideas:

  • Pet shelters are likely to be supported by people who like animals.  If they like animals, they may read about them, own them, or visit them.  Advertising in pet journals, at pet kennels or grooming centers, appealing to owners outside  pet stores or zoos are likely places to find target donors or at least people who love animals enough to contribute some money to a cause that supports them.
  • Arts groups are likely to be supported by people who like the arts.  Where are these people found?  At universities, art galleries, theaters, art groups, book clubs, libraries, cafes that hold poetry readings, arts publications, bookstores, art stores, art classes, and other like places.
  • Non-profits that have to do with children are likely to appeal to families.  Where would such people be found?  Parks, schools, PTA meetings, churches, playgrounds, fairs, toy stores, fairs, children's days at the zoo or art gallery, parenting publications, and other like places.
  • Non-profits that have to do with community development may seem to be a varied bunch, both those who are worried about issues such as poverty or issues such as housing regulations would tend to congregate around town hall meetings, soup kitchens, or other like places, depending on their individual concerns.
  • Non-profits that have to do with the environment attract people who are worried about the state of our planet and resources.  Where are such people to be found?  At natural health food stores, environmental protests, town hall meetings that have to do with preserving parks, environmental stores, "green" publications. 
  • Non-profits that have to do with International issues attract people who are worried about international policies and the state of the larger world today.  These people may be considered about worldwide human rights, about international policies and other similar issues.  These people may be found reading the 'world' section of the newspaper, attending protests to raise information about human rights, and other like events.  People who either have family overseas or who are from overseas often have a built-in interest in International issues.
  • Non-profits that have to do with education attract people who are worried about education and literacy.  These people are to be found at literacy centers, the library, schools, PTA, meetings, and other like areas.  If your education mandate has to do with children, then your target donors can be found in similar places as the target donors for non-profits that have to do with children.

There is a pattern here.  People who are concerned about an issue are likely to express their concern by spending their time at specific places and they are likely to attend specific events or read specific publications related to their concern. If you want to target your audience of donors, you should be asking yourself where potential donors can be found and then target your fundraising to some of these areas. 

So, keep asking yourself a few marketing questions:

  • Where can I find people who are interested in the issue our non-profit is furthering?
  • What do people interested in our concern read?  Where do they go?  What groups do they belong to?
  • What sort of person is so likely to be interested in our groups' issue that they will be willing to help our non-profit financially?
  • What companies in my area have contributed to similar non-profit groups in the past?
  • What sort of fundraising effort would be most likely to draw the people who are most likely to be interested in out group's mandate?
  • Are there government agencies or philanthropic agencies that tend to give money for causes that are similar to our group's mandate?

Targeting your donors may seem to be only a way of narrowing down your choices, as you are basically trying to attract only a smaller percentage of people to your cause.  However, if your group only has limited resources (and this is true for so many starting or small non-profits) then targeting your donors by choosing to ask only those donors who have an intersest in your cause can help you get the best results possible in the shortest period of time. 

Think of it as making educated guesses about who can help.  The idea is not to ask only those who are most likely to help, but rather to focus on specific groups of people before expanding out to other donors.

Once you have targeted specific groups as donors, you may wish to expand and seek help and support from donors that seem less likely to be interested in your group's cause.  In some cases, you may be pleasantly surprised to find unlikely donors who are willing to help you raise money for your cause. 

For example, across North America, there are motorcycle enthusiasts who regularly take part in a "teddy bear" drive before Christmas in order to raise funds and gifts for children who might not otherwise receive gifts.  Many people are surprised to see tattooed biker enthusiasts carrying teddy bears on their Harley Davidson's for charity, but this scene happens every year. 

How much time and effort you spend trying to contact donors outside your targeted donor group will depend on many factors, including how volunteers you have for such campaigns and it will depend on how much money you have been able to raise through more targeted fundraising.  If you have been successful enough  to raise all the fundraising money you need through targeted donor hunting, you may  not need to expand your list of donors too much, and instead of trying to find new sources for money, you may want to direct your efforts to fulfilling your group's mission. 

If, on the other hand, you find that you require more money and have had smaller success with targeted donors (because, for example, a group with a similar mandate has also been fundraising in your area) then expanding your list of potential donors may be one way to get more money for your non-profit.

Next page: 7. Fundraising - Your Donors' Needs

Practical Fundraising Ebook - Table Of Contents

  1. Fundraising - The Basics 
  2. Fundraising - Terminology
  3. Fundraising - Money
  4. Fundraising - Where to Find Donors and How to Reach Them
  5. Fundraising - Targeting Your Donors
  6. Fundraising - Research
  7. Fundraising - Your Donors' Needs
  8. Fundraising - Ideas
  9. Fundraising - Donated Products
  10. Fundraising - Bought Products
  11. Fundraising - Marathons
  12. Fundraising - Lotteries, raffles and more
  13. Fundraising - Fairs, Auctions and Bazaars
  14. Fundraising - Fun Events
  15. Fundraising - Drives
  16. Fundraising - Services
  17. Fundraising - Tips for Choosing a Fundraising Idea
  18. Fundraising - Your Plan
  19. Fundraising - Your Team
  20. Fundraising - Staying Organized
  21. Fundraising - Communicating With Your Donors
  22. Fundraising - Advertising
  23. Fundraising - Letters
  24. Fundraising - Emails and more
  25. Fundraising - Person to Person
  26. Fundraising - Thank You Notes
  27. Fundraising - Grant Proposals
  28. Fundraising - Press Releases
  29. Fundraising - With Computers
  30. Fundraising - Secrets to Success
  31. Fundraising - Problems
  32. Fundraising - Conclusions


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