Donor acquisition is a puzzle most nonprofits struggle to solve — how do you bring in new, quality supporters without spending a ton of money? With attrition at an all-time high, donor acquisition is critical to fundraising success.

Donors donate money for donor acquisition
Donor acquisition is important to offset attrition

According to DonorTrends, 99 donors are lost for every 100 donors gained. So, this means if you aren’t replenishing the well, the well won’t fill up more. Or, worse: It may dry up. Attrition happens for a variety of reasons, but the 10-year trends indicate retention is at less than 50%, according to DonorTrends.

Plus, donor acquisition is costly: most studies agree it costs 10 times as much for a nonprofit to bring in new donors as it does to keep current ones. This trend is similar to what’s seen in the for-profit sector: Even the largest companies that have seemingly saturated their markets need to bring in new business.

But, if you’re not able to focus on donor retention, it’s important to put an emphasis on donor acquisition because you can offset the attrition.

So, here are some of the Dos and Don’ts of donor acquisition:

Do: Take advantage of marketing resources

Google Grants provides nonprofits with opportunities for up to $10,000 a month in grant funding for Google Adwords. Also, YouTube for Good helps nonprofits create compelling videos to use on social media, at events and on the Internet. Or, ask a strong corporate partner to help publicize your work with an email to their staff or customers. Also, ask them to tweet or post on Facebook to support your work.

Don’t: Treat every donor the same

In this day and age, every donor wants a personalized experience. Segment your donors and consider what would be most impactful to each “persona.” Bill Tedesco, CEO of DonorSearch, says to not only get a donor’s basic contact info, but “you should also enhance that knowledge with data on their hobbies, interests, social media presence, etc., so you can better engage with your prospects.”

Consider targeting a message towards seniors about how your work helps the senior community. Tell parents how your work impacts family. Don’t use the same generic message for each group of donors, because each group has a different interest to which they’ll feel connected.

Do: Make a case for support

Develop a 30-second elevator speech. What are the most compelling key points you’d want someone to know about your organization? Then, build your case of support. Consider the following questions: Who do you help? How do you help? What’s the impact?

This will make it easier to tailor your key messages to each group of targeted donors. Plus, consider your call to action: Don’t overlook the importance of honing your “ask” in a clear, concise way so the donor knows you are seeking financial support.

Don’t: Place importance on gifts

While some individuals do want something in return, most new donors will want to see their money being used wisely to impact the mission. Rarely does a donor ask, “Which organization gives the coolest swag?” before they make their donation. Instead, they’ll want to see the impact.

So, ditch rewards and focus on impact, instead. This will save you money and will help the donor’s gift feel more meaningful. Plus, it won’t place the burden on your organization to become a fulfillment or shipping house for products!

Do: Make it easy to give to your nonprofit

Use an online fundraising platform like Razoo that guarantees a consistent experience for donors across devices and mediums. Since nearly 30% of gifts are made via smartphone, make sure your donation form is mobile-responsive. Try to use the same form across your individual vs. peer-to-peer vs. project campaigns. This will eliminate confusion on the donor’s end and make it easier for them to complete their donation successfully.

Don’t: Be afraid to get creative

Think outside of the box with your marketing efforts. You don’t want to get stuck in the white noise of other nonprofits competing for your donors’ attention. Here’s one example: Do you have a large warehouse located in a place with a lot of foot traffic or public transportation? Use the space as a canvas and include information on your building about how to contact the organization or how to give back.

If you don’t have the space for an endeavor like this, consider how you could lean on others. Do you have a corporate partner willing to donate billboard space or real estate for you to add your signage?

Do: Take advantage of P2P fundraising

Peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising works. It’s low-cost and a proven way to bring in new donors. Through P2P fundraising, you’ll be relying on your supporters to bring in new supporters by sharing their personalized story with their networks of friends, colleagues and family, among others. One of the top reasons donors give to a nonprofit is because a friend asked, so P2P is an extremely effective way to acquire new donors

Ask your volunteers, clients, major donors, board members and staff to create a P2P fundraiser for your nonprofit. You’ll be surprised at how your donor base can multiply with the help of new social networks!

Success Stories

Ashley Horner is an athlete looking to support Maison Fortune Orphanage in Haiti. She ran an incredible 230-mile ultramarathon in Haiti to support the orphanage. Ashley set a goal to raise $28,000 for the nonprofit. In all, she ended up raising $65,000.

Ashley Horner runs for Haiti orphanage on Mightycause while holding flag.
Ashley Horner runs for Maison Fortune Orphanage in Haiti

The nonprofit knew Horner was a seasoned fundraiser, so staff joined efforts to market her fundraiser. They kept donors engaged by updating a blog of Ashley’s race. Then, they wrote a guest blog on Mightycause.

Consider who at your organization could take on a similar venture? Start small: Put out a call for marathoners, 5K runners, swimmers and triathletes to see if they are interested in helping your nonprofit. Then, help them set up a P2P fundraiser and share their efforts with your current donor base.

Next Steps

Still seeking more donor acquisition tactics? Sign up for #GivingTuesday on Mightycause! Register for the event on Nov. 28, 2017, and you’ll be part of an international movement aimed at engaging donors through social media. Then, get involved in the conversation on Twitter and Facebook and make sure you’re ready to engage online donors in the conversation.

Have more questions? Email us We’re here to support all users on our site, from donors to fundraisers to nonprofit partners!

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