The Key To Donor Acquisition

The right donor acquisition strategy can provide a solid foundation for building your donor base. Here's all you need to know about getting it right...
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I have been working with a particular development director to help her with donor acquisition. 

Her donor base consists mostly of people who are 60-years-old or older. They are reliable and consistent donors. 

But the organization’s service recipients are 20- and 30-year-olds. 

They want a donor acquisition strategy to engage younger donors, donors who could see themselves in their end users’ shoes. 

Their hypothesis is that donors in their 20s and 30s should easily be able to imagine themselves in the unfortunate situation of the organization’s service recipients. Therefore, if the organization appeals to young adults’ senses of empathy, they will be moved to donate.

If only it was that easy.

When we began working together, I asked the development director two questions. 

1) Where will new donors by acquired from?

2) How are you going to keep them?

We spent months answering them. Here is where we landed. 

Even If You Build It, They Won’t Necessarily Come

The development director and I spent a lot of time talking about how new donors don’t just fall from the sky. They need to come from somewhere. 

In this case, they would come by way of the organization’s board. The board is very active and very old. They dutifully accepted the role of Fundraising Ambassadors responsible for donor acquisition – specifically young people – to join the cause.

Each board member committed to receiving donations from 10 young adults who are not currently in their donorbase. 

This donor acquisition strategy made sense. After all, most of the board members have children (and their children have friends) who fall into the target demographic. Most of them have nieces, nephews, neighbors, and co-workers. They likely have 20- and 30-year-olds in their lives who they can invite into this mission. 

They agreed to personally reach out to these young adults, establishing a personal connection. They articulated the impact that donors have when they donate, and they asked for a specific 

donation amount. 

The board set out on this aggressive peer-to-peer donor acquisition strategy with an understanding that the primary reason that donors donate is because someone asked them to. 

The development director increased the number of people asking for donations and, in doing so, increased the number of new donors. It’s just that simple. 

In part two of this blog, I’ll address how she devised a plan for donor retention. 

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