Your organization can search high and low for new donors… but the new donors you seek might be hiding in plain sight. There are plenty of places to find “new” (or, not-so-new) donors to your nonprofit’s annual campaign **:

LYBUNTS and SYBUNTS: A LYBUNT is a person who made a donation to your organization Last Year But Not This Year. A SYBUNT made a gift Some Year But Not This Year. Check your database/records for people who gave at some point in the past, but haven’t given in the last year or so. Pay special attention to people who have made more than one gift to your organization, but for some reason have stopped giving. You may have stopped reaching out to them because you thought “Oh, well. I guess they are just not interested in us anymore.” That’s not necessarily the case! Other priorities may have arisen… they may have had a change in financial circumstances… they may have had a friend or family member that got involved in a charity and asked them to make a commitment… your emails may have gotten lost in their spam folder… you never know! And if you don’t reach out again, you never will know. What you do know is that at some point in time, they cared about the work that you do. That will make it easier to re-ignite their interest.

Participants and attendees: Do you collect information on people who come to your events, participate in your webinars, or otherwise engage in your work? Follow up with them, not necessarily with an ask for funds, but an update on your latest-and-greatest activities. (Remember that you can’t add them to your general mailing list without first asking their permission.)

Vendors: Depending on your organization, vendors could include anything from accounting firms to event management companies to cleaning or security companies. It is not unusual for nonprofits to ask their vendors if they would like to make a gift to the organization, or for the vendors to make those gifts.

Employee matching gifts: The next time you send out an annual campaign mailing (or any mailing, for that matter) you can ask the recipient if their company has an employee matching gift program — a program where companies will match the donations that their employees make (usually up to a certain amount). If you receive a gift from an individual and a matching gift from their employer, you’ve just added the employer as a new donor! Typically, the employee will need to fill out some paperwork from their HR department in order to activate the matching gift.

Clients: This really depends on your organization, the type of work that it does, and the people it serves. However, it’s not uncommon for some organizations to offer their “clients” the opportunity to donate; nonprofit hospitals and healthcare providers often do this via “grateful patient campaigns.” If you run a time limited program or training, you could ask alumni to make a donation (if you have graduated from college, the notion of alumni giving probably is not new to you!). Again, this definitely may not be a fit for every organization. But, I invite you to think of it this way: Asking clients or participants to make a “personally meaningful gift” to your organization, regardless of the amount, is a way to give them a sense of agency and pride.

Are there other ways that you have discovered, or re-discovered, new or “newish” donors to your organization’s annual campaign?


** What do I mean by “annual campaign”? While this can mean different things at different organizations, it generally refers to donations from individuals that come in to the organization via email or mail appeals. Gifts to the annual campaign are usually unrestricted, which means that they are not earmarked for a particular project — nonprofits can use these funds however they wish, which is especially helpful in covering staff salaries and benefits, rent and utilities, legal and accounting, and other overhead costs that can be difficult to cover with grant funds. Annual campaign donations are generally smaller than major gifts or grants. Many people think of their annual campaign as the lifeblood of the organization; these donations are what you need to keep everything else in the the organization alive.


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