How can I learn about researching and cultivating individual donors?
Through donations and bequests, individual donors typically account for more than three-quarters of charitable giving each year. Nonprofit organizations rely on individual donors for consistent support.
To help you get started, Candid's webinar, Introduction to Individual Giving, will provide an overview of the fundraising landscape and walk you through the key components of an individual giving program. Watch now:
It is a good idea to focus on the potential of individuals that are closest to your organization and its mission rather than approaching wealthy public figures. Most celebrities are inundated with requests for money, and they may have no connection to your nonprofit's mission or location.
Instead, build personal relationships with affluent and well-connected local community members. They are more likely to have a personal connection to and interest in your community, and therefore may be more inclined to donate and get involved in your cause.
The Candid video, Steps You Can Take Immediately to Diversify Your Board and Major Donor Base, will give you practical methods to building powerful relationships with diverse people who offer expertise, wealth, and influence.
One of the first steps in approaching potential donors is to find detailed information about them. This is also known as prospect research, and it involves networking, making contacts, and checking multiple sources.
Prospect worksheets for institutional and individual donors will help you capture the right information about funders whose priorities match those of your organization.
Yet researching individual philanthropists is somewhat difficult because, unlike foundations, they are not required to publicly disclose their financial and philanthropic activities. Some ways to learn about potential donors:
- Search local media for stories about people who have prospered in their professions and are active in civic affairs and charitable causes. Your public library probably has databases to search many news sources at once.
- Network with your prospect's acquaintances. This may yield valuable information, perhaps even an introduction.
- Prospect research Web sites link to multiple online resources to learn about a person's giving potential and interests.
- Some Funding Information Network locations subscribe to the following databases that can be helpful in prospect research (check your nearest location for availability):
Dive into this topic with the following Candid courses:
- Quick take! Learn how to tell your story online in order to connect with potential donors:
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Explore resources curated by our staff for this topic:
Subscription required. DonorSearch is a prospect research tool providing information on donor giving history and assets.
Equilar Atlas allows development officers to prioritize prospects through connections with friends, acquaintances, and business relationships. Free and fee-based accounts available.
Federal Election Commission Disclosure Database (government web database)
Search for contributions made by individuals using contributor name, city, state, zip code, principal place of business, date, and amount.
Marquis Biographies Online
Subscription database of biographical data for leading professionals worldwide in a variety of fields, including business, law, science, medicine, the arts, government, and entertainment. Your public library might have access to the database or have print versions of the Who's Who directories.
Million Dollar List
Free record of publicly reported charitable donations of $1 million or more made in the U.S. since 2000. Users can search for information by donor or recipient organization, type of donor or nonprofit, and gift size and date, as well as download results.
OpenSercrets (formerly The Center for Responsive Politics) is a nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based research group that tracks money in politics, and its effect on elections and public policy. The Web site offers a searchable database of political donors, campaign contributions, news and analysis, and donations to PACs, a lobbyists database, and "soft money" donations.
SearchSystems.net - The Largest Public Records Directory
Larage directory of links to free public record databases on the Internet.
The Political Graveyard
Information on more than 120,000 deceased politicians, judges, and diplomats. Can be searched alphabetically, by offices held or sought, date of birth or death, leading political families, geographic location, awards received, cause or circumstances of de
Search by state on how to get birth certificates, death records, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, naturalization, adoption and land records, with listings of other relevant databases and links for those locations.
Subscription required. WealthEngine is a web-based research tool that offers wealth screening, customer segmentation and modeling, and donor analysis.
Donor Cultivation and the Donor Lifecycle Map: A New Framework for Fundraising
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