Micah Mann

QUICK SHOT: Connect with the right donors in your database

Here’s how to research “Holy Spirit connections” for your Nonprofit

By Micah Mann, Account Director/Strategist

One beautiful way that the Holy Spirit works in your ministry is by revealing answers to known and unknown needs. It’s exciting to witness a timely answer to prayer through a monetary gift from a donor. But the donors brought to your ministry bring so much more than the monetary gifts they give. Made in the image of God, donors of all giving levels bring talents, connections and knowledge that are potential assets for your ministry.

Here are actionable steps for researching “Holy Spirit connections”… to uncover your ministry’s potential assets and connect with the right donors in your database.  The steps are simple and likely you’ve done a variation of these exercises on an ad hoc basis (who hasn’t Googled a donor who gave a large gift unexpectedly?).  

But I challenge you to consider this a creative exercise to get to connect with the right donors in your database and to walk through these steps with open eyes and heart.

Document Your Database  

I don’t recommend undergoing this structured search with only the latest urgent need in mind, as you’ll likely be blinded to other opportunities. However, to give an idea of how valuable this research can be, I want to share some possible outcomes here – and throughout the steps, I’ll share real-life examples!

Here are the steps: 

  1. Candidates to become Board Members
    • Compile a list and share with your board chair.
  2. Conduits to productively engage churches, high-wealth individuals, companies and foundations for ministry programs, volunteers… and yes, monetary gifts.
  3. Knowledge-based resources
    • Talented donors can become potential employees/leaders, volunteers or even just an expert sounding board for wise counsel.         

Even if you have the latest and greatest CRM, don’t discount human analysis and intuition! With that said: document, document, document this research in your database.  Lastly, move briskly as you research – not every donor will have remarkable info to document.

But the “diamonds in the rough” from this exercise can propel your ministry forward… and don’t be surprised if their increased engagement also leads to increased monetary donations!    

Research Your Donors and Take Notes 

In this article, I want to share your first step – and spend some time really drilling down into the “why” and “how” to take action on it. 

Take the first step: Research your donors (cash, non-cash GIK and volunteers) and take notes. 

I define research as “mining information, resources and connections.”

Action Steps:  

  1. Sort and look at every last name of donors from the past 3-5 years. Not just major donors, all donors. 
    • Note the last names that stand out to you. 
  2. Of the last names that stand out, make a list of their full names.
    • While sometimes the full name stands out, most of the time the full name will be unremarkable.  
      • Think spouse/child/relative of local wealthy, well-known or connected individuals. 

Real-life examples:

  • Alex Trebek’s first gift to a faith-based Rescue Mission was $100; his legacy gift was $500K.
  • One ministry discovered a donor was the wife of their local NFL quarterback and directed their family’s charitable foundation.
  • Another nonprofit found that a daughter of an “arm’s length” major donor had recently started volunteering and making small gifts herself. 
  1. Search these full names with respective city name and state online to see their potential impact: Google, LinkedIn, Facebook.
    • As you search these donors, invite the standouts to connect on LinkedIn and Facebook.
    • Take notes and capture them in your database.
  1. Gather your top 50 donors, top 25 volunteers and top 10 GIK donors.
    • Using Google, LinkedIn and Facebook, research 3 distinct items about each donor:
      • The donor’s profession with their current company, the church they attend and anything unique that stands out:

Unique examples:

Board or club memberships, skills/talents/interests/gifts that may be valuable to the ministry, notable connections. 

  1. Google the donor’s full name, respective city name and state.
    • Document anything notable that comes up (news articles, websites, connections, etc) 
    • If they are on LinkedIn, typically their profile will be in the top 10 of the Google search.
      • Click on the donor’s LinkedIn profile and make notes like: What is the donor’s profession, and what does that entail?

Real-life examples I love:

  • A Rescue Mission found a top 50 donor who was COO of a company that provided maintenance and cleaning staffing – a valuable employment connection for graduates of the ministry’s program.
  • One ministry discovered a top 50 donor was a nationally known ministry fundraising consultant who lived in their city and whose family had been volunteering for decades. Perfect timing with forthcoming retirements expected by the ministry’s Executive Director and Development Director.
  1. Current and previous companies
    • Consider matching gift opportunities
      • Skills & Endorsements, Volunteer experience
      • Church, club, board of director associations
      • Interests and causes the donor cares about
  2. Go to Facebook and type in the donor’s name, donor’s city and state in the search bar
    • Go to “About Info” section of donor’s profile
      • Note check-ins, events and who the donor is following: your best bet to find a donor’s home church is here. 

Research and documentation is nothing without follow-up. On that note, I will leave you with a word of encouragement: Your donors want to know, and be known, by the one true God. Move forward in prayer and with the knowledge that you are an emissary of our Lord. Amen!

  • Micah Mann

    Micah Mann, Account Director/Strategist

    For more than 10 years, Micah has dedicated himself to raising funds for nonprofits, including Rescue Missions, World Vision, Easterseals, Young America’s Foundation and Christian Union. As Founder/Executive Director of Blood for Missions, which supports Christian ministries through blood donations, he grew a team of 25 employees, serving a grassroots network of over 100 Christian schools and churches, including 5 of the largest churches in America.

    At BDI, Micah is a relational leader and client advocate who’s committed to helping clients achieve fundraising success through strategy, ideation and authentic collaboration. Working with BDI’s creative, data, media and production teams, he strives to consistently exceed expectations. He sees BDI as an agency “set apart” – motivated by faith – to help ministries make an impact for God’s kingdom.

More fuel for more impact.

Let's talk.