1) Be systematic
To avoid researching the same person/company twice or missing out a potential lead.
2) Stay up-to-date
Read the newspapers, magazines, sector news, follow relevant social media…
3) Start with your nearest and dearest
Who do you know? Who do they know? Who does your board know? You get the idea…
4) Talk to people
You never know who you might meet and how they may be able to help.
Instead of focusing on what you do/your organisation does, find out more about who you’ve met. What are their interests, skills etc.?
6) Focus areas
Break what you do down into key areas and research who supports work in those areas. Maybe you work with youth at risk in particular locations. Different search criteria could be “youth” “location” “disadvantage” “education” “training” etc.
7) Who supports organisations similar to yours?
Can you approach them for funding/support?
8) Look at your expenditure/budget
What areas of expenditure could be covered by pro bono support?
9) Keep track of who you’ve researched
This can be done in a simple excel. Include those you’ve researched that aren’t relevant and note why so that you/other team members can avoid looking up the same organisations again. If you’ve contacted someone and they said or you suggested you’d be back in touch in six months/next year, make a note of this and make sure to check back on your list to follow up with people you said you would.
10) Keep track of who you’ve met
In the excel mentioned above, include people who’ve attended your events or who you or your colleagues have met. Could they lead to any new leads?
11) Do research in short bursts
By doing research in short bursts it can make it more interesting. But more importantly, you’re more likely to find yourself more engaged with new ideas/thoughts popping up as you dig deeper/click on more links etc. By doing a short burst a day of research a day or every couple of days for a week or longer you may be surprised what you discover!
12) Find specific contacts…
Once you’ve got a decent list of potential sources, find the best contact details possible – ideally name and personal email. It’s amazing what you can find using Google and LinkedIn. If you have a name but not a specific email, try finding someone else’s email in the company – often on press releases there will be a contact. This will likely give you the email format. Try searching for your contact’s email using the format and quotation marks and you may find you’ve found exactly what you are looking for.
13) Have a plan
Once you’ve got an initial list of potential funders/supporters, make sure you have a plan on what you want to say/ask before you contact them. Draft an email template that you can edit for different people. Make sure it’s clear, concise and personal explaining why you’re contacting them. If calling, it can be a good idea to have a script to hand of the key things you want to say.
Need some support?
Do you have any questions about researching funders or others areas of fundraising? If so, I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me here.
Or perhaps your non-profit or social enterprise is in need of some expert support in another area, such as communications, evaluation or projects? Find out more on how I can help you here.