April 10, 2019 Keith Cleghorn

You have probably already realized that building long-term sustainability starts with mobilizing support for the vision of your organization. That includes connecting existing financial supporters, as well as reengaging lapsed donors.

But it is through acquiring new supporters that your organization can empower future growth.

Understanding the health of your donor file is key. With donor retention rates across the industry below 50 percent, it is critical to maintain a robust direct response program that maximizes individual giving and reengages supporters to fuel additional revenue. New donor acquisition is the area to focus on in order to achieve sustainable growth for the future.

There are three factors to acquisition success to keep in mind for 2019:

  1. Fundable Offer—The most effective fundraising connects the donor with a problem that they can solve. Potential supporters need to immediately grasp how their gift can help make a difference in the lives of those impacted by your organization. Is there a timely, impactful reason for donors to give?
  2. Available Audience—The prospects that make up your target audience are closely tied with your offer, and a breakthrough in one can lead to a breakthrough in the other. Expanding the available audience provides more opportunity for testing new offers. All with an eye towards long-term donor value that sustains the organization. Where are there high-quality prospects to target?
  3. Resources to Invest—The ability to take advantage of acquisition opportunities is dependent on a commitment to donor file growth. Is there dedicated budget for donor acquisition? And is there a commitment to testing both offer and audience in order to build a healthy donor file?

Any one of these factors can create a breakthrough in growth opportunity. By the same token, a lack in any one of these will hamper your acquisition program as well. Many organizations have one or two of these factors in place, but all three are required. The goal is to keep these three factors in balance with each other, especially as you grow.

Bonus: With first-time donors, there can be a temptation to “protect” these new supporters—to limit your communications in the fear that they do not want to hear about your needs . . . nothing could be further from the truth. Our own studies have shown that the first 90 days are the most critical for engaging new donors and deepening the relationship; this includes soliciting gifts.

Our team is happy to help advise you on what strategy may work best for your organization, but you’ll never know unless you try.

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