As the saying goes, every dollar counts.

Even still, your nonprofit organization is not going to reach a comfortable level of sustainability and growth without large gifts from individual and corporate donors.

Securing dollars like this is part of a trust-building process between your organization and the donor — it’s not something that is going to happen overnight. As you start to work with a variety of large donors, you’ll notice habits and patterns that are more or less successful at convincing donors to give; the strategies that work are a natural fit for your fundraising funnel.

If you haven’t already identified the pieces of your nonprofit’s funnel, check out my list of 5 steps to build a fundraising funnel. After doing this, you’ll soon understanding that implementing a consistent donor communications strategy will also help you achieve moving individuals through the funnel effectively.

If you’ve already got these systems in place, or at least are on your way, you may be realizing one other struggle in securing large gifts: how do I find these large individual or corporate donors in the first place?

If you’ve already tapped out your network, and are seeing the same faces at your fundraising event — a next step might be trying some old-fashioned cold calling.

Before you panic — listen up! In this digital age, cold-calling doesn’t have to be so cold. Think of it instead as making an introduction to someone who might be a really good fit. Research the business’ website, check out what they’ve been up to on social media and find the individual on LinkedIn to better understand who they are and whether a donation to your charity might actually fit their needs.

LinkedIn can also be a great tool for softening the blow when it comes to the outreach: the tool allows you to see people that you already know who are connected to your prospect — so you can use this commonality as a reason to connect.

A message or phone call to someone you don’t know but a friend knows might look something like this:

Hi Amy,

Beth Johnson suggested that we connect. I’m the Executive Director for Positive Every Day Cancer Foundation, Inc., and we often find partnerships with businesses like yours mutually beneficial.

I’d love to connect with you over coffee to chat about what we do and how it might help your company to find out whether there’s a good fit for us to stay connected.

How about Monday morning?

Take care,


When you send a message like this, always (always!) first ask the person you’re going to reference whether it’s OK you mention them in your message. It would certainly be a bad situation if Beth found out from Amy that I connected with her using Beth as a reference.

A message like this is more friendly and less of a pitch — and the end goal is to simply take them to the next step of your funnel.