Digital fundraising has two major approaches these days when it comes to finding new donors – donor acquisition and lead acquisition. The first has to do with reaching out and trying to obtain a first gift from users in your target audience. The second involves promotions to get as many email addresses from users in your target audience as possible and subsequently work to convert them into donors. There are pros and cons to both approaches, but the one that works best may depend on who you are.
The Pros & Cons
Donor acquisition is the most straight forward approach. Find the right group of people and ask them to help fund your mission and vision. The pros of this strategy include recouping a higher percentage of your costs immediately, obtaining real donors instead of potential prospects, and higher conversion rates. The cons include lower volume of contacts, higher cost per acquisition, and smaller ponds to fish in because you are reaching people who have already given.
Lead acquisition is a longer tailed approach that involves promoting your organization in a way that does not include a gift. Then, you nurture those contacts over time and encourage them to become donors. The pros are that you obtain many more contacts, have a lower cost per lead, and can target more broadly because people do not need to be ready to invest in your work upon learning about you. The cons of course are that it can take months or even years before enough leads mature into donors for this strategy to be worthwhile.
So Which Is Better?
Both approaches can be very effective. However, your results depend more on you than the technique. Some organizations have such a strong, straight forward and compelling mission that it is easier to communicate it quickly and in a persuasive form to get first time donors. Some non-profits do not have such a compelling story, but they can engage people in effective ways to get their email addresses and develop the relationship over time.
For those with the means to test, it is best to pursue both approaches with multiple strategies. We have discovered for some organizations one of the approaches will far outperform the other, and in other organizations both approaches work and can be pursued independently.
All In The Follow Through
In either approach, how you communicate to new contacts will determine long term success. Email communications for these users may need to be the most compelling of any that you use. New digital users, and even donors, likely do not know you as well as more traditional direct-mail donors. They need to be won over by the passion of your cause, they need to feel a personal connection. If you can strike the right chord, you can open up new avenues for donor cultivation and discover a brand new revenue stream for your work.
Let us know how Infinity Concepts can help you find and cultivate donors for your organization.
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