New donors are a necessity whether you are starting out or have been around awhile. They replace the donors who have left your list for a variety of reasons. If you are new, a donor database or list is the single most important asset you will develop. I’ve seen the importance of donors recently with the pandemic. Many organizations that relied on in-person events and other in-person activities found themselves scratching their heads and panicking about how to fundraise now. Organizations that had a donor list immediately switched gears, sent out fundraising letters, and let out sighs of relief when they still received donations. Your funding is in your list. I said it before the pandemic and it’s true during and it will be true after.


If you’ve been neglecting to build your donor list, now is the time to focus on it. Building your donor list takes time and starting now means you will be further ahead when the next bump in the road happens. And, yes, there will be another bump in the road.


Where Do I Start Building a Donor List?


I like to have a plan. So, for me, a donor acquisition plan is the place to start.

What is a donor acquisition plan?


Donor acquisition plans are simply the activities and action items put in a document and on a calendar so the organization can follow through in an intentional, focus, and consistent way.

Follow these steps to create one.

  1.  Brainstorm ways to find your ideal donor.
  2.  Decide on the ideas you can do and that makes sense for your organization. Enlist your board for help.
  3. Budget. Everything needs a little money so make sure  you budget accordingly. Eliminate tasks that are out of your budget.
  4.  Lay your ideas out on a calendar. Assign deadlines and people to do the task.
  5.  Execute your plan.


What are some ideas to use when I’m working on a donor acquisition plan?


When you are working on your plan, think about how many people can enter your organization as a donor. They might include:

  1. In-person events
  2.  Website
  3.  Social media
  4.  Friends
  5.  Volunteers


Then think about how you can capture people’s contact information. They won’t become donors if you can’t ask them to partner with you.

Want to dive deeper into donor acquisition? The Nonprofit Nation membership will cover this topic and so many others. Each topic has specific action steps at every level so you can start, build, or grow your donors. Join Nonprofit Nation’s Fundraising Success Path Facebook group for more fundraising topics and to learn more about the membership and see special offers.

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