Foundations For The Future: Donor Acquisition AND Donor Retention

by Mark Dreistadt | Aug 16, 2019 | Fundraising

Every good structure is built on a strong foundation. Jesus even taught this in the Bible in Matthew – Chapter 7 and Luke – Chapter 6.

When you build any structure, the most important part of the process is getting the foundation right. I once worked at a television station that put up a new transmission tower. They discovered that the tower site was located on top of an underground mineshaft. So, the contractors drilled hundreds of feet until they found the bottom of the mine and started building from there. There was as much construction below the ground as there was above it. Without this solid foundation, the structure could not weather the winds of time.

Every non-profit organization must also have a strong foundation. The fundamental footer upon which an organization is built consists of a compelling purpose, a well-defined mission and a clear vision. Without these core components no organization can begin to build successfully.

However, just as foundational to the future of a non-profit organization are its donor acquisition and donor retention strategies. Every organization must answer three foundational questions:

  1. Who will support our mission?
  2. How do we find these people?
  3. How do we keep these people engaged?

Let’s answer these questions one at a time…

Who Will Support Our Mission?

Americans are generous people. In 2018 they gave over $427 billion to charity. If you have a valid mission and a clearly articulated vision, there are people who will support your work. It is often helpful to identify the persona of someone who is likely to give to your organization.

The persona includes the unique defining characteristics, demographics, and psychographics of people who would care about the work you do. These characteristics may include gender, geography, income, education, personal interests, life experience, etc. Defining the right persona is the first step in laying a strong foundation for the future.

How Do We Find These People?

Once you identify the kind of individuals who are likely to support your organization, then you need to develop a donor acquisition strategy to reach them. Donor acquisition is the process of finding and motivating an individual to give your organization a contribution for the first time. Organizations use many different channels for donor acquisition including speaking engagements, direct mail, television, radio, special events, digital media, social media, etc. You need to determine which marketing channels are right for you and your budget.

Donor acquisition is an ongoing practice for every healthy organization. Unfortunately, I am aware that many non-profit and faith-based organizations do not have an active acquisition strategy. They lean on their existing donors and hope that other new donors will somehow find their organization. As a result, they miss multiple funding opportunities. Be sure your organization is continually managing, measuring, and improving your donor acquisition processes.

How Do We Keep These People Engaged?

Finding the right donors is only the beginning. You need to develop a donor retention strategy to keep them engaged with your organization. Donor Retention is the process of motivating donors to continue to give to your organization after the first gift. Research shows that first-time donors want two things:

  • A sincere thank you.
  • A report about what their money is doing.

The same report states that over 70% of the one-time donors are likely to give a second gift if they receive the two items above — as well as:

  • Understand the mission of the organization.
  • Feel like their gift made a difference.

Do not underestimate the power of these four components in your donor retention strategy. Build your donor communication stream accordingly.

The Importance Of A Prompt And Sincere Thank You.

At Infinity Concepts, we use a “rule of thumb” that says:

Every day it takes for a donor to receive a thank you for their gift reduces the probability of giving again by 1%.

While this is likely not a statistically accurate model, the principle is right on. We have had multiple clients see significant increases in revenue when we helped them thank their donors promptly — within 72 hours of receiving the gift. This is not so easy for many organizations – but it really makes a difference toward your fundraising results.

Because of this principle Infinity Concepts started to provide Receipting Services for our clients. We have dedicated staff who make sure every donor is thanked as quickly as possible.

Engaging Infinity Concepts to do your receipting is quick, easy, and affordable. The donation goes to your bank, so there is no delay accessing the funds. If desired, we can key the donation into your donor management software. In every case, the receipt is sent the very next business day. What a difference this kind of donor communication makes! If you would like to learn more about this service let us know.

We want you to build a strong foundation for the future… So here are the three takeaways to establish a strong fundraising foundation upon which you can build.

  1. Define your donor persona
  2. Develop a donor acquisition strategy
  3. Execute a robust donor retention strategy

You can change the world — and if you need a little help, reach out to Infinity Concepts.
CLICK HERE or call us today at 724.733.1200.

Mark Dreistadt

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