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Published January 19, 2016 Reading Time: 3 minutes

At the start of the New Year, the vast majority of donors are tapped from holiday and year-end giving. This is why it’s best to avoid asking for donations during these first few months.

As a development team, you should instead use this time to set your sights on a new goal: cultivate new supporters and prime them for action.

Why You Should Cultivate New Donors Early On

It’s important to acquire new supporters for your nonprofit early in the year for two reasons:

1. People are creating New Year’s resolutions, making pledges, and setting intentions for the year to come. They’re receptive to learning about new causes and getting involved.

2. When year-end giving approaches once again this fall, people will give to charities they’ve established relationships with.

As a nonprofit, the goal should be to bring in new supporters early in the year and convert them into donors in the latter part of the year.

How to Cultivate New Donors

What does it take to nurture new relationships with potential supporters? There’s no right answer. Get creative.

Just remember that every communication, every touch point, every experience with potential supporters should be meaningful and convey who you are as a nonprofit and your impact.

Here are some ideas to get you started, with examples from Athletes 4 Cancer, a nonprofit that helps young adult cancer survivors reclaim their lives after cancer through outdoor adventures.

    • Create a welcome email series demonstrating your impact. Immediately loop in any new donors you acquired over the holiday season. A series of 3 to 6 welcome emails will help keep your nonprofit top of mind following a gift and teach donors about your incredible programs and the difference you’re making.
How to Cultivate New Donors
    • Start a “New Year’s Resolution” volunteer program. Ask existing supporters to commit to a monthly or quarterly volunteer experience and bring along one or two friends for the day. This will help you continue to connect with your current supporters while recruiting potential ones through a reliable source.Pro Tip: Following the volunteer experience, enroll your new contacts in your welcome email series to expose them further to your impact.
    • Ask existing supporters to introduce the cause to three new people. They could do so through a digital or in-person event where they share their personal connection to the cause and encourage others to get involved.
    • Create a series of blogs diving deep into your impact. Include testimonials and heartfelt stories from beneficiaries, an infographic with impact stats, past achievements, and goals for the New Year. Be sure to emphasize the role that supporters play in making these things possible, and ask existing supporters to share these blogs on their social channels.
    • Throw a supporter appreciation party. Show your supporters some love and have them bring their family and friends (A.K.A. potential new supporters) to a fun event. It could be a happy hour gathering, breakfast event, or family-friendly concert featuring a local band. Consider handing out a small gift like a sticker or t-shirt with your logo.
Appreciation email athletes 4 cancer

No matter the events or communication methods you use to reach new supporters in the New Year, make them meaningful. Draw in new supporters through your nonprofit’s purpose, impact, and a call to action to become or stay involved as a supporter.

Matt Scott is the Chief Development Officer at CauseMic, Classy’s first Certified Strategic Partner in the nation. With Matt’s leadership, CauseMic has raised more than $6 million for their nonprofit clients on the Classy platform. Contact Matt on Twitter at @Cause_Mic to learn how CauseMic can help you raise money and awareness online.

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