Donor acquisition is just as important as retention. Unfortunately, most organizations focus on retention because it is cheaper and less time-consuming than acquisition. And it’s time to change that. Simply put, donor acquisition is the process of securing new donors for your campaign. This is achieved by leveraging marketing and networking strategies to put you in front of people unaware of your organization and motivating them to support you. Some of these networking strategies include segmenting, building relationships, marketing, traditional fundraising, networking, etc.
There are many different strategies out there that will help you with donor acquisition. But it is important to remember that donor acquisition is not a one time job. There is a life cycle to donor acquisition that comprises 3 stages.
- Getting prospects’ contacts.
- Nurturing prospects to build a relationship.
- Appealing to them to secure donations.
Strategies to get prospects’ contacts
So what is the first step in all this donor acquisition? That would be getting in front of the people who are unaware of your campaign and obtaining their contact details. This will give you an opportunity to connect with them, nurture them, and lead them up to a donation appeal. But how do you get these details without seeming desperate?
Make the most of your website and marketing
All the information that your supporters and future supporters will need will be found on your website. It will be the hub of all information for more details and the area where these future donors can make their donation.
Online giving grew by 12.1% over the last year and has seen consistent year-over-year growth. A clean cut donation page (along with a top-notch fundraising system) is probably the most important thing you will need to invest in if you want to continue attracting donors online. It is important to make sure that your prospects have a user-friendly and smooth experience. Making your donation button visible within a couple of seconds of your donation page loading is key. A bright eye-catching color will be sure to attract those potential prospects your campaign is looking for.
Content will be the primary driving force of the website. This will help you attract the right visitors via organic searches and support your paid advertising efforts.
To make the best use of your content, you will need to:
- Research keywords relevant for your campaign and target audience and add them to your landing page copy.
- Use the keywords to create content for your blog to help you rank in search engines and attract visitors.
- Add compelling CTAs on your blog and landing pages asking people to sign up for updates.
Promote engaging content on social media
In today’s day and age, your campaign might as well not even exist if it’s not present on main social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
While donor conversion on Facebook and Twitter is only 3 percent to 6 percent, social media allows you to interact with your supporters, build up your brand image, increase exposure, and get donors to sign up for your e-mail list.
When it comes to creating a social media strategy, it’s important to note that, although it looks like it, social media isn’t free. There is the cost of staff time and resources, which takes away from other aspects of fundraising and the organization.
What social media does, in a way that no other communication channel can, is that it has a multiplier effect when your supporters help you out.
Here’s how you can get started:
- Create profiles on all major social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.).
- Start creating content relevant to each channel. You can promote your blogs, snippets of your impact reports, opinion pieces, campaign results, announcements, etc.
- Add links to your website and sign-up forms on your profile.
- Ask people to engage with your content and share it with others. This puts you in front of your audience’s network, thereby increasing exposure.
Referrals from existing donors.
Your existing donor database can also be an invaluable source of new donors. You can reach out to these supporters and ask them to share your message, content or simply invite their friends to join your list. Here are a few ways you can do that:
- Include an “Invite a Friend” CTA in most (if not all) of your communications with existing supporters.
- Host fundraising events and give supporters the opportunity to bring along others who also might be interested.
Strategies to nurture prospects
Once you have acquired a prospect’s contact information, you can then move on to the next step of donor acquisition. The next step is engaging prospects with small asks before you lead up to the actual donation request.
Send them newsletters regularly.
This is a simple way of keeping prospects informed about what you are doing. The more they see you out on the campaign trail, the more likely they are to trust you. This, in turn, translates to a positive response from those potential prospects.
In your newsletters, you can include organizational updates, staff member bios and highlights, campaign updates, event highlights, and polling results. You can also include volunteer experiences and future volunteer opportunities along with acquired donors endorsements and the like.
Get them to participate in surveys
When connecting with prospects, the conversation needs to be two-way if you want them to take an interest in you actively. Surveys help you do that. When you have a better understanding of your donors and what is important to them, you can connect to them in a meaningful and relevant way. Surveys can help you know your donors’ demographics, contact preferences, behaviors, and interests. Always have this information in mind when releasing any kind of communication to your donors.
Remember don’t push to get all the information at once. Keep the surveys short and get the data over multiple interactions. Keep things engaging by having these interactions over different channels like email, phone call, text message (Robocent has the perfect text marketing campaign for this), and in-person meet ups.
Strategies to secure donations from prospects
Once you have engaged your prospects now would be the perfect time to secure those donations!
Email is a commonly used channel for both general updates and fundraising. The ease of automation and the mass reach are the primary reasons for that. You can craft a compelling email with relevant and engaging content that will motivate your donors to action. Scheduling follow-ups might seem intrusive, but remember there can be times when people do not receive your email or they are not a place where they can donate. Sending a follow-up is a good reminder that will allow more to get involved.
Fundraising appeals over calls, and even text messages, are highly personal. They give you a better opportunity to overcome objections that may be keeping a prospect from donating. As society continues to move into a more digital scope, obtaining donations via text message has seen an increase in movement. We’ve done all the research for you on how you can raise money over a channel that your donors prefer; this will help you increase the ROI on all that campaign work you and your staff is putting in.
Direct mail fundraising is often brushed off as an outdated strategy, but think again! While it can be laborious, it’s still effective, with an average response (i.e. donations) rate ranging between 5-9%. Always take into account your older generation of donors; they may not have access to your electronic forms of communication, but they still want to help out. Direct mail is the best way to get a hold of them. Don’t forget to include a return envelope with paid postage (included in the mail) to collect donations. Alternatively, you could also include a QR code or text fundraising details.
It’s likely that prospects who signed up to your list also follow you on social media. Hence, reaching out to them on social media is also an option. Social media’s multiplier effect gives you the opportunity to get in front of an audience apart from supporters and prospects too. This enhanced exposure is an added advantage.
Donor acquisition is just the first stage of the donor lifecycle. Drafting and executing a plan based on the above strategies can help you with that. Acquiring donors is not as simple as it sometimes seems. Generating positive impressions and progressing towards fundraising goals can be difficult, especially when the pressure is high and deadlines tight. The core of donor acquisition is about understanding your audience, sending out a convincing message, providing value, and building a donor-focused approach. Building upon this you can develop strategies or a mix of strategies and tactics – whether that’s direct mailing or creating viral videos. But once a donor is on board, there’s more value in them being a lifelong supporter than a one-time donor.Ensure their donations are processed smoothly and efficiently and you’ll have a supporter for life.