Donor activation and retention strategies are vital to the growth and success of your organization. Now we’re going to focus on another famous A&R duo in the direct response fundraising world: donor acquisition and reactivation.

Acquiring new donors may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be. Below are some considerations for your donor acquisition program, whether you are just getting started or you already have a robust donor acquisition program:

  1. Getting started: Start by incorporating acquisition into your regular cultivation appeals. For example, we often recommend that an organization add a panel of prospective donors from strategically chosen rental lists to several of their best-performing appeals and digital campaigns throughout the year. This low-risk approach allows you to try list/audience selections with various fundraising offers to see what will resonate best with prospective donors
  2. Ramping up: Once you’ve identified an offer and an audience that responds well, you can expand the acquisition program to dedicated mailings several times per year using your best-performing offer—your “control.”
  3. Maximizing your returns: Continue testing new offers against your control and new rental lists to improve response rate and average gift.


Next, focus on reactivation:

Lapsed donors will give you the best “bang for your buck” in growing the donor file—you’ll see higher response rates and higher-than-average gift amounts than with acquisition. This is because lapsed donors already know who you are, and they already care about the problem you’re trying to solve.

Do as much reactivation as you can afford!

  1. Getting started: Strategically include lapsed donors in your monthly cultivation appeals. A good rule of thumb is to include donors whose last gift was up to 24 months ago.
  2. Ramping up: When you send dedicated acquisition mailings, include lapsed donors in these efforts, too. Because these will be your best-performing offers, here you can really expand the selection criteria and include donors who are much longer lapsed than 24 months.
  3. Maximizing your returns: Layer on phone campaigns and targeted Facebook campaigns to communicate very personally to lapsed donors just how important renewing their support is.