Monday, January 7, 2013

Find bigger donors through social media

It’s no secret that fundraisers keep dossiers on people of high net worth when they are cultivating them for a major gift. To speed up the time frame between collecting information and getting to the “ask,” it pays to link-up with or follow some high net worth individuals online.

Many high net worth individuals have staff or assistants who do their social networking for them. You may need to go the circuitous route: follow their companies, their spokespeople or their foundations. Chances are they don't have a Facebook page but check anyway. Some may be on LinkedIn. Their foundations or companies likely have a Twitter account. These high net worth individuals can be tracked online in some fashion.

For universities, alumni are a major group of supporters. If you are a fundraiser at a college, join your organization’s alumni group on LinkedIn. Glean information from alumni about their allegiance to their alma mater, find out how many received scholarships and frame a question about whether they would support a student through a scholarship. Make the initial “ask” in a conversational manner rather than a formal request. Then follow-up with a phone call, e-mail or personal visit. Don’t put someone on the spot on a visible communication stream.

On Twitter, search for: family foundation, CEOs, and board of directors. These categories could produce some surprising new sources of donors or advisers who work with high net worth individuals.

Get creative about finding your supporters online. Do you follow prospective supporters and funders? Have you made a successful “ask” of someone who you met on social media? Share your story.

A potential donor inquires about supporting the Heidelberg Project in Detroit. (Photo by Liz Cezat.)

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