First, nonprofits need to be fully aware that not everyone is a donor or wants to be a donor to your cause! For some reason many nonprofits think that just because they "do good" that everyone should be attracted to their cause, which is simply never the case. Nonprofits need to learn to cultivate donors by making connections with individuals that are really interested in what they are doing!
Also, realize that just because you have Ms. X, who is a donor or maybe even on your board of your organization, and she is friends with Ms. Y, who is known in the community as very generous and donates lots of money to causes, does not mean you should have instant access to go knocking on her door and expect a huge contribution. You have to learn as a nonprofit to really work at building a relationship and EARNING the right to ask for a contribution! While it is true that people give to people, sometimes regardless of the cause, if you are looking for long term donors you're going to have to work a little harder!
Do people in your community really know that your organization exists? If not, then you need to be like any other good business and get the word out and advertise. Don't expect everything free either! Be creative! Do you have a newsletter? Are you talking at civic groups? Are you listed in the phone book? Do you run an ad in the newspaper? Do you have a billboard? What are you doing to create your point of difference between your nonprofit and all the others out there in your community?
One good way to cultivate new donors is to have an open house. Lots of hard work up front has to happen in order to get people to come out, but in doing this you are casting a large net asking people to come see what you are all about. Realize that just because someone might stop by does not make them an instant donor! Take it slow. Example: Most folks hate going into a store shopping and having a pushy salesperson, right? So you don't need to be the pushy salesperson in your nonprofit. Show your best side, make a good first impression so there will be a chance for another connection later. If possible get people to give you some information about themselves so you can follow up with them later. If nothing else just send them a card saying thanks for stopping by!
** Very Important** People want to be a part of a success and a winning team not a sinking ship!
If people come to your organization and get nothing but a sob story then your chance of success will be limited. Getting a "pity donation" is a one time donation and you will quickly be forgotten and replaced by another organization that is offering more hope of success.
Also, I hate to be the one to break the bad news but, there is no one size fits all solution to creating success in all nonprofits! Each case is different and all nonprofits have different strengths and weaknesses. If you need help....I'm here to be a sounding board, just send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, make sure to vist my website www.nonprofitexpert.com for more information.
DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended to provide legal or accounting advice, or to address specific situations. Please consult with your legal or tax advisor to supplement and verify what you learn here.