Approaching Nonprofits Cold

Approaching Nonprofits Cold

Let’s say you’ve found a nonprofit that you think could really use your help. But you don’t know anyone there. Should you cold call?

In my experience, nonprofits are very leery of cold calls. You are much better off trying to warm up that connection.

Do you know someone who knows someone there? Social media, especially LinkedIn, is good for finding connections. Ask them to make an introduction, or to at least identify who you should contact inside the organization.

If that doesn’t work, do a little homework on the nonprofit’s website and social media channels. Compare what you see there to the kind of work you have done before. You are trying to match their need with your experience.

Maybe you see they do events, and you’ve done event marketing. Maybe you think their website copy is terrible, and you’ve done some website revamps.

Now, identify the person most likely responsible for that work. Not sure? If they have a communications director or development director, start there. Otherwise try the executive director.

Send an email that goes something like this: I love the work you do and was looking over your website. I am a freelance writer, and have worked on a few different website makeovers — sample links from other clients are below. I’d love to share some ideas I have for how I could help you with your website. Would you be interested in a quick conversation about that?

The goal of this email is not to get hired, but to start the conversation. You can’t really create a good pitch until you better understand the client’s needs anyway.

What’s worked for you in reaching out to “cold” prospects?

This post was previously shared as our very first article in the Monday Marketing Morsels e-newsletter on July 28, 2014.

  • Kate Johnston

    I wondered about this myself. I started out sending LOIs, but I felt really weird about it. Like a stalker! So, I stopped doing that, and I’m making myself known via Twitter and other social media venues, so they become familiar with my name, face, and mission. This kind of socializing (no matter how profitable it might be in the long run) does mean that the job search is on a hiatus however, and that’s hard to justify.

    • Kivi Leroux Miller

      You definitely have to focus on the bigger picture with this kind of outreach.