Many NGOs that I have interacted with mention that they do not have any retail donor database. It looks much easier to put in efforts on a few HNIs or CSR funds. The problem is most of the CSR and HNI funds are focused on a few large NGOs and many Organisations have their own foundations which are directly supporting communities. A large number of small but good NGOs thus get starved of funds. The other problem is if there is too much dependency on a few large donors if anyone suddenly shuts the tap for any reason the NGO program is left in lurch and this has adverse impact on beneficiaries.
Unlike in the US where a large percentage of donations for NGOs comes from retail donors in India it is the reverse. This needs to change. The question is, how does one go about this? This looks like a lot of effort and there is no dedicated person for retail fundraising / marketing communications in many NGOs. Investing in fundraising is viewed as like an unnecessary expense rather than an investment as this is not backed by the large donors.
Yet with some very simple steps every NGO can build a community of retail donor base (I would like to call them friends of the NGO)
1. Build a community
Retail donor base is essential as a community connect, even if a few large donors can take care of most of the funding requirements it is essential for every NGO to build a community of like-minded supporters for their cause. Every problem that exist in a community whether it is slums, education, poverty or environmental issue is a community problem. The community needs to own the problem. The attitude to building a donor base is to involve and build friends and supporters community around your cause and the NGO.
2. Start with the founders, board members , staff and trustees
When an NGO tells me that they do not have any donor database I am surprised. If you open the contacts on anyone’s phone today, there will be at least 100 close acquaintances in the list. One can start there, start by telling them what you do. Every staff member, trustee, board member is a first connect for building the friends / supporter donor base.
3. Structure your donor base for engagement
Everyone who has ever donated to your NGO is a potential life-long donor. How do you stay in touch? do you know the birthdays, special days of your donors? Do you reach out to the donors at regular intervals? Think of every donor as a lifelong community member and supporter for your NGO. Then structure an engagement program around that.
4. Use platforms and technology
There is no way you can build a donor engagement program without the use of technology. Start with Excel sheets if you cannot afford a CRM, today there are many open source CRMs available for free, you could use anyone of them. You can use free tools like mail chimp for emails.
5. Integrate fundraising campaigns and website donate button
It is important that all databases get centrally stored for better and systematic engagement in the future. GivNow was built to integrate fundraiser campaigns and website donations with ease on a single platform.
6. Invest in social media marketing
One can reach potential donors through social media marketing, this is a powerful tool that needs to be leveraged. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp each one of them offers a way to reach out to potential donors. You need to have a plan backed by investment ,this is where retail donations help as they are not tied to specific projects.
7. Leverage volunteers
Building a strong volunteers network helps to build community connect. Provide platforms and tools to volunteers to champion for the NGO and raise funds. GivNow is investing in building online platforms for NGOs to leverage their volunteer network to do fundraising for NGOs.
Building a donor database needs effort and focus, if one has a long-term approach to building a community of friends that supports the NGO this is not an impossible task. It is important to start with investing in a dedicated resource if one needs to succeed in building a retail community of friends network.