How Nonprofits Can Generate Leads

This is the blog transcript of our video “How Nonprofits Can Generate Leads”. If you’d like to see more of our videos, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

All organizations have to generate leads, I’m sure that doesn’t come as a surprise to anybody. What a lot of people don’t think about is how nonprofits need to generate leads. What’s different? What’s the same?

Non-profits rely on their donors to pay for the day-to-day operations of their organization. They have a fiduciary responsibility to those donors not to waste the valuable dollars that a donor has given. Mass mailings to potential donors with no connection to your organization or cause will not generate the donations required to cover the time, hourly wages, costs of printing, assembling and mailing needed to recover those resources and add new value to the donor base. Shooting in the dark hoping to hit a potential donor is fiscally irresponsible.

Experienced fundraisers know that the likelihood of a donation from someone who has no personal connection to your agency or someone the agency serves is pretty much nil. They spend very little or NO TIME on non-qualified prospects because a) it is doubtful to lead to a significant donation, b) it wastes valuable organizational resources, and c) it is ethically wrong to waste valuable resources on practices that will not yield results. Non-profits have a fiduciary responsibility to their donors and constituents to operate efficiently and spend responsibly.

What is a Qualified Donor Profile?

Before we talk about what a Qualified Donor Profile (or Q D P) is, let’s start with what a Q D P is not.

A Q D P is not a name, email, street mailing address, or phone number that has been farmed from a wealth screening database, taken from a donor report, or any list purchased or downloaded from a website. Those are contacts.

Many non-profit organization fundraisers turn to wealth screening and donor reports in an attempt to find new leads. They send out a heart-warming letter with hopes that the targeted individuals or entities will be so wowed by their messaging that they’ll happily write a great big check that will bankroll their organization for the year or years to come. They think the more letters they send, the greater their chances of gaining a new supporter, and if they send out enough correspondence, it will eventually lead to the desired result. 

This couldn’t be further from the truth. The problem with this approach is that information is being sent to hundreds of “donors” who have no personal connection to the organization or its cause and have more than likely not been affected by the problems your agency aims to solve. They are also receiving multiple requests for funding from numerous organizations, and many of them simply land in the shredder.

Think about it: An organization has a mission of raising awareness about the adverse effects of litter on their community and has a mission to clean up litter from public places and the sides of roads. The letter reaches two people – someone who is deeply disturbed by all the litter on the side of the road or the person who threw their fast-food bag out of the car window. Which one is more likely to support the cause?

Random communications sent out in hopes of landing a donor don’t work. Procuring donors is a process that begins with a Q D P.

A Q D P is a person or entity who is interested in the cause of your non-profit. You know they are interested because they have reached out to you for more information based on a message or communication placed somewhere by you.

Once a person has reached out to your organization, whether they visited your landing page and subscribed to a newsletter or attended an event and left their email address – if they have taken action toward learning about your cause or organization, they are a Q D P.

But all Q D Ps are not the same.

For example, just because someone reached out to learn about your agency does not mean they have the capacity for a monetary donation.

Simply put, a Q D P is the starting point of a dialogue that might ultimately lead to a relationship. The goal is for that relationship to blossom into support for an agency.

No to Q D Ps are the same, so there are a few things to look at when qualifying a prospect:

  1. Has the person or entity expressed interest in your organization based on printed or digital information, an event, or other activity your organization has initiated? As mentioned before, if a person or entity has provided their contact information in an attempt to learn more about your organization, they are automatically considered a Q D P.
  2. Does the person or entity have a specific interest or compelling emotional reason in supporting the mission of your non-profit organization? Persons personally affected by the particular problem you are solving are much more likely to become donors. For example, a family member of a person with a developmental disability can connect with the cause because of their personal story. Therefore, it is more likely to relate to an agency serving those with developmental disabilities.
  3. Is a person or entity familiar with your organization? Those who have advocated for you before, have volunteered or shared your messaging are Q D Ps.
  4. Have they outright told you they wanted to give? A no-brainer here: if someone has said they want to give – that’s a Q D P.
  5. Do they have the means and/or capacity to support your organization through monetary or volunteer resources? Someone living paycheck to paycheck may have a compelling, emotionally based interest in your organization but simply don’t have the means to give a cash donation. That doesn’t mean they can’t be a qualified lead – you would approach them for volunteering, getting the message out, or otherwise advocating for your organization.

How do non-profits generate Q D Ps?

Developing a base of Q D Ps requires a substantial amount of work upfront and is an ongoing process for most non-profits, new and established. That being said, there are many ways to find and attract Q D Ps:


The best place to start is on your non-profit’s website, with clear and concise messaging about your organization, the problem you solve, and why it is essential to solve it.

Non-profit organizations have an advantage over for-profit businesses because they usually are flush with compelling emotional stories that can be tapped into about how an organization is helping a particular constituency or affecting change. A well-crafted message will help create an emotional connection to the organization and provide multiple opportunities for an interested party to engage through clear calls to action. 

Clear Calls to Action

A well-crafted message and straightforward call to action will be the reason someone responds, which will provide you with a Q D P. Calls to action should be located in all of your digital messaging systems, such as social media posts, email campaigns, and on your website landing page. Calls to action tell an individual what you would like them to do – subscribe to our newsletter, join our mailing list, subscribe to our blog, contact us for more information, learn their stories, stop fracking now – and are designed to turn those interested into Q D Ps. Effective messaging always includes one or many clear calls to action. 

Digital Tools

Websites, social media sites, email campaigns and advertisements offer excellent opportunities to generate Q D Ps. With effective messaging and clear calls to action, fundraisers can create points of engagement between you and someone reading your messaging.

Petitions are a great example of a digital tool that works for procuring Q D Ps. A petition campaign sends a strong message about the problem that your organization seeks to change. It engages a prospect by compelling them to take a simple but meaningful action – signing the petition – that can help make a change. 

Once someone has responded to a call to action that your organization put out – in this case, signed a petition, you know that they are interested in your cause. Often, when someone signs a petition, they repost it on their social media, potentially leading to other Q D Ps.

Before we go any further, I want to take a sec here.  I know, this seems complicated and possibly like an insurmountable task, but I can assure you, its not.  If you are looking to keep track of your Q D Ps, leads and the buyer or donors’ journey, you need a great C R M that can help.  And, we’d be thrilled to tell you more about how Mission Suite can help you and your donors.

Ok, back to our Q D Ps 


Events are a great way to let people get to know your organization and to generate Q D Ps. Events offer the opportunity to put out informational brochures, collect email addresses, and meet face-to-face with members of the community and share your cause and begin to work on one-on-one relationships – those that often produce the most support. 

One-On-One Relationships

The entire reason for acquiring Q D Ps is the end goal of a one-on-one relationship. One-on-one interactions allow fundraisers an opportunity to really know what an organization is about, to build trust, and to learn everything about what makes a particular donor want to give. The goal is to establish a relationship where making a gift is as beneficial and fulfilling to the giver as it is to the recipient.

Community Engagement and Non-Financial Supporters

Volunteers, board members, constituent family members, and those grateful to your agency for helping them or a loved one should consistently be recognized as Q D Ps whether they have the means to make a monetary contribution or not. Those who believe in your organization and feel compelled to help can offer practical resources such as time, labor, testimonials, expertise such as graphics and web development or even pro-bono legal advice. Community engagement is a valuable resource for non-profits and should be included in any segmenting plan.

Engaging Your Non-Profit Team in Donor Stewardship 

Many non-profits make the mistake of only training their development team in effective donor stewardship. Success happens when your whole team understands the essential role that donors play in funding day-to-day operations and how they can act as ambassadors in turning contacts into Q D Ps. A firm understanding of what constitutes a Q D P and the following steps is a process in which all of your non-profit staff should be trained and engaged. 

It is important to follow up and remember that a Q D P is the starting point of a relationship between a potential donor and a non-profit organization. Someone has expressed an interest and initiated a conversation based on a message, event, or call to action initiated by your organization. Now the goal of the organization is to follow up and create a relationship with Q D P that will go through another process before a fundraiser ever makes an ask.

Nurture: Once that relationship is established, it is essential to properly nurture that relationship by developing openness and trust through honest and transparent interactions. This is when a fundraiser learns everything they can about a donor while teaching the donor everything they can about the organization.

Differentiate: Not all Q D Ps are the same. Work to segment Q D Ps into categories such as major donor, minor donor, planned giver, or volunteer – depending on their capacity to give. Never write off a potential donor just because they can’t offer a monetary donation. Volunteers often bring expertise, skills, and other resources to the table.

Timing: Don’t make an ask of your Q D P until they have been adequately vetted by having all the information they need to decide to support your organization and have been paired with the right person from your fundraising team who will finally secure the donation. 

Qualifying donor prospects is the beginning of the donor relationship process. Good fundraisers find creative ways to use great messaging, digital tools, graphics, events, and other strategies that drive potential donors to engage with your non-profit and bring them into the playing field. Emphasizing qualifying donor prospects may feel unsurmountable initially but will yield far greater results in the long run.

And great fundraisers likely have help in keeping track of all this.  Look into a C R M to help you.  And, of course, reach out to us at Mission Suite if we can clarify anything you heard here or offer you any advice.

I hope you’ve gotten something out of this video. 

If you did, do me a favor and give it a like, give it a comment, give it a share so that others can see it too, that definitely helps with the engagement and helps us with this YouTube algorithm. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and ring the bell so that you’re notified when we post new videos and check out the other videos that are here on your screen, and we’ll see you next time around!

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