Donor acquisition is the process of attracting new donors to your nonprofit organization’s cause. It is a strategy that involves connecting with supporters and prospects and encouraging them to become engaged donors who stay committed to your nonprofit’s cause and mission. 

For several nonprofits, donor acquisition goes hand in hand with donor retention as they work hard to keep their fundraising funnel active. However, it is generally more costly to acquire new donors than to retain those you already have. So, you need a donor acquisition strategy that can attract prospects at an affordable cost. 

This article highlights six steps to help create a cost-effective donor acquisition plan. 

6 Steps to Creating a Donor Acquisition Plan for Your Nonprofit

1. Analyze Your Current Data

A data-driven donor acquisition strategy is the key to acquiring the right donors to your nonprofit. Before you map out your donor acquisition plan, you need to look at how your nonprofit has historically engaged supporters and attracted prospects. Then, note down what has worked and what hasn’t. You can do this by:

  1. Surveying your current donor pools: Consider sending out a donor survey to your existing donors to learn their motivations for contributing to your organization. Remember, your goal is to understand what has worked and what hasn’t to gain some insights on you can attract more donors. 
  2. Assessing your donor database: Chances are your organization is currently gathering data on donors discover your brand. If so, since you have all this data on hand, you should consider analyzing it to see what you can learn about your current donor acquisition and engagement strategies. If you integrate your donor database with an AI-powered nonprofit tool like KIT, you can get recommendations based on your existing data, which will point you in the right direction to acquire more donors.

Learn More About Your Donors and Prospects

Use this donor profile template to record and track important details about your donors and prospects so you can target the right individuals for the right fundraising campaigns.

2. Set Goals

Once you better understand your nonprofit’s current donor acquisition outcomes, you can start planning by setting clear goals. Your goal should be realistic, specific, and timely. You can use KIT to identify and track your nonprofit’s KPIs, including donor acquisition rate, donor retention rate, email click rate, etc. These KPIs will help you keep a pulse on your progress towards your goal. 

3. Conduct Prospect Research

Prospect research is the process of gathering information about individuals’ capacity and willingness to give to your organization. This research involves analyzing wealth indicators, such as political contributions or stock holdings, to determine a prospect’s giving capacity. These indicators are beneficial when planning major gift fundraising and planned giving campaigns

You can also use philanthropic indicators, such as past involvement with similar nonprofits, to understand what causes and campaigns your prospective donors care about. Tools like Donorsearch and Windfall are great for conducting prospect research. They can help you gather essential information about your prospects so you can better engage with them and boost your chances of converting them to donors. 

4. Share Your Impact Stories

Stories are essential communication tools. When creating your donor acquisition plan, consider integrating stories into your marketing copy and messaging. Share impact stories that will resonate with donors and help them understand the value of their potential contributions.

You can leverage predictive data analytics to uncover the issues they care about and connect with them individually on those issues. You can personalize your communication and send stories about how your nonprofit is working to improve the issues that specific prospect segments care about. Then, encourage them to contribute to the work that you’re doing.  

Be sure to support your stories with data. Using data to back up the narrative you tell boosts donor trust and showcases your nonprofit’s transparency. You can also use KIT to forecast your nonprofit’s campaign outcomes, so you can let prospects know how much you expect to accomplish through your programs. 

5. Use a Multichannel Approach to Engage Donors and Prospects

Having a multichannel donor acquisition strategy means that you’re reaching and communicating with donors and prospects through different channels and at multiple touchpoints. 

From email marketing to social media marketing and direct mail, each donor communication channel is unique and has its pros and cons. 

Emails are a tried and true communication tool that allows you to send detailed messages to targeted recipients. Social media is great for brand awareness strategies and keeping supporters updated about your nonprofit’s operations and programs. 

Direct mail marketing adds a personal touch to the donor communication process and may resonate with donors and prospects likely overwhelmed with digital messages.

These are just a few channels to consider when reaching out to prospective donors. Do what works best for your nonprofit. And be sure to test each channel at least once and evaluate its performance to know if it’s the right path for your organization or not. 

6. Create an Evaluation Strategy

Speaking of testing, you should also have parameters and tools in place to test and evaluate your donor acquisition strategy and plan. Just as you set goals for your plan, you should revisit those goals after specific periods to assess your team’s performance.  

One way to measure your progress is by tracking the donor acquisition cost, as this metric will tell you if your investment is worth its return. More so, keep track of your donor lifetime value and donor engagement rates. You want your new donors to stay committed to your organization for a long time, so be sure to check how your donor relationships grow or wither over time.

Lastly, pay attention to trends in your data. You can use KIT to review your current CRM database and find patterns that can point you in the right direction or help you understand your donors better. Similarly, you should keep an eye on trends across the industry. Seasonal and economic events can impact your donor acquisition outcomes, so be sure to factor that into your evaluation and assessment. 

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