Unlike for-profit companies, nonprofits do not have the luxury of manufacturing and selling their own products and services and making profits to finance future activities.

This means nonprofits are always under pressure to raise fresh money for new projects and initiatives.

Fortunately, the same lead generation strategies that work for for-profit companies can also work for nonprofits.

But nonprofits have unique needs and so these strategies need to be executed differently.

That’s what we’ll study in this article.

Nonprofit Lead Generation defined

Lead Generation is the process of attracting prospective customers with the intention of converting them into paying customers.

In the context of a nonprofit, lead generation means finding donors who will support your cause with their checkbooks.

While there are similarities between lead generation strategies for for-profit companies and for nonprofits, nonprofits have a unique set of needs.

Unique needs of Nonprofits

Understanding the unique needs of nonprofits is critical to fine-tuning lead generation strategies to gain maximum results.

1. Always raise money

When a for-profit company raises money, it deploys that money in gainful economic activity with the intention of making a profit. It can then invest that profit back into the business to grow and make more profit.

Eventually, it may cease to have a need for fresh money from external investors.

But nonprofits never cease to have the need for fresh money.

The money that they raised yesterday, last month or last year is being spent for charitable purposes and does not generate a monetary profit that can be available for use in the future.

So nonprofits need to continuously raise money in order to stay relevant in the future.

2. Finding people with a passion for the cause

When someone chooses to work for a nonprofit, it is almost always out of a passion for the cause than as an avenue to earn money.

In fact, nonprofits need to keep their operational expenses as low as possible so that the money they have can be used for accomplishing their mission.

This means most nonprofits usually offer lower pay levels compared to for-profit companies.

This makes it vital for nonprofits to find people who are passionate about the cause and who will join the organization because of that passion.

3. Timing

When generating leads and raising money, timing is everything. People tend to be more generous during the holiday season or at the time of another event in their life like a wedding or a death.

Approaching prospective donors at such moments with the appropriate delicateness is one of the unique challenges of lead generation for nonprofits.

4. Retaining and engaging the existing donor base

There is such a thing as donor exhaustion.

Some donors like to spread out their donations across several nonprofits or charities.

Other donors might lose interest after a while.

And so, finding new ways to retain and engage the existing donor base and keeping it excited about the cause is a crucial challenge faced by nonprofits everywhere.

5. Finding volunteers

Most successful nonprofits, rely on volunteers to further their cause. This is how they can scale and punch above their weight.

Lead generation may also require help from volunteers. And finding volunteers for what is essentially a thankless job is never an easy task.

Strategies Nonprofits can use for Lead Generation

Lead Generation Strategies for nonprofits are not that different than those for regular, for-profit businesses.

The strategies just need to be executed differently.

With Nonprofit Lead Generation we appeal to a potential donor’s emotions or to a higher ideal rather than to a pure, profit & loss-based self-interest as you would if you were approaching an investor.

Here are some of the best strategies you can deploy:

1. Leverage Influencers (online and offline)

Influencers can have an outsized role in helping you get access to a host of donors whom you otherwise would have no way of reaching.

Plenty of well-connected people like to associate themselves with good causes and are willing to open their Rolodex to make it happen.

And by associating with a nonprofit, these influencers are able to meet new people and further grow their network making it a symbiotic relationship between your organization and the influencer.

2. Telemarketing / Cold Calling

While telemarketing and cold calling have a negative association when it comes to selling products or services, it can actually be a very positive technique when it comes to soliciting funds for a nonprofit.

The moment you tell people that you are calling from a nonprofit, it takes away the annoyance that the person on the other side feels for having received an unsolicited call.

And the sooner that you can tell them that you are calling from a nonprofit the longer your conversation with them will be.

And so telemarketing is a great way to generate leads for nonprofits and to eventually convert them into donors.

3. Email

Most emails that reach our inbox are emails we would rather not receive.

And this is why an email from a nonprofit which is actually doing some good in this world is almost always welcome.

On social media find people who have expressed an interest in the field that your organization is active in. Then run an email campaign targeting this segment.

This way, if you link your email marketing outreach to your social media campaigns, you are very likely to see high email open rates and stand a good chance of converting people on your email list into quality Leads.

4. Direct mail – leaflets, brochures, etc

Direct mail campaigns using leaflets, brochures and flyers are still a very effective way to draw attention to your organization and your cause.

Most people throw away the junk mail that they receive in their traditional mailboxes.

Except for mail from nonprofits!

For some reason, everyone feels an obligation to at least read what’s written on a brochure or a flyer from a nonprofit. Use this to your benefit.

5. Leverage Social-Media

When it comes to finding leaves for charitable causes, social media can be your friend. This is for two reasons.

First, many people will open associate with a nonprofit on their favorite social media channel. Part of the reason is that they genuinely care. But they also want to be shown supporting a good cause. The good news for you is that you can easily find who these people are.

Second, you can target these people with a laser-like focus with advertising, messaging campaigns or email marketing campaigns.

 This can be one of the most effective and least expensive ways of generating leads for a nonprofit.

Key Takeaways

  1. Lead generation strategies that nonprofits can deploy are not very different than those that four profit companies use. They just need to be executed differently.

  2. In the context of nonprofits, lead generation refers to finding donors who will financially support your activities.

  3. Nonprofits have unique needs which every lead generation strategy should take into account.

  4.  The best Lead Generation Strategies for nonprofits include:
    • Leveraging influencers
    • Telemarketing/cold calling
    • Email Marketing
    • Direct mail and
    • Social Media