Attracting New Donors: Traditional Strategies
In the search for new donors, your nonprofit can and should use a variety of strategies. Each strategy has pros and cons, especially since different people prefer being contacted differently. We recently covered how to create a donor acquisition strategy, and now we’re diving into how to get the word out about your nonprofit. This post covers traditional strategies your nonprofit likely already uses with new ideas to make them more effective.
While direct mail may seem antiquated, it’s still highly effective. Depending on the campaign, you could get a response/donation rate as high as 5-9% per piece of mail sent. Most nonprofits use direct mail because of this high success rate.
As you can imagine, direct mail works best with those who actually open their mail. Demographically, this tends to be the Baby Boomer generation or older, who also currently make the majority of nonprofit donations. Younger generations who grew up in the digital age are less diligent. Even I don’t read all the mail I receive from nonprofits I am interested in, as I get the information in other ways.
As time goes by, you’ll be sending mail to a growing share of the population that won’t open it, so the success rate of these campaigns will decrease. The cost of preparing and sending out mail is going up too. There’s still a place for direct mail, especially if it remains successful with your existing donors. Just be aware that you may need other strategies to keep growing your base.
Emails are an electronic version of a direct mailer. You can use the same content, as many donors who prefer emails don’t check physical mail and vice versa.
The primary investment for email campaigns is maintaining your database. You need to keep the email addresses updated while constantly adding new contacts. If you’re making this effort already, then each email campaign is essentially free. However, you will need considerable volume to see results, as the typical email donation rate is below 1%.
One way to improve your chances is by sending out more emails when people aren’t getting swarmed by other nonprofits. People receive many messages at the start of the year when organizations give annual updates and at the end of the year, with donation reminders for tax purposes. Messages outside these times stand out. In my experience, a spring mail campaign could work out very well.
We also recommend sending out more frequent emails, but not always with the sole purpose of fundraising. Instead, use emails to share your message, news, and success stories for your nonprofit. Schedule one to two emails a year where you actively request donations while using the rest for just giving information.
Existing Donor Referrals
Long-time donors and volunteers have shown they care about your nonprofit. They could help find others to do the same. When you host events, suggest volunteers bring friends and family members.
At major events, you may have little time for a long conversation and to make a formal donation request from all those new potential donors. Instead, get their contact information to develop these relationships more casually. Afterward, ask if you could take them out for coffee, lunch, a personalized tour of the facility, etc. That way, these referrals will get to know your organization, increasing the chance they’ll donate later.
Tele (and Video) Marketing
Calling for donations is time-consuming. However, it could be worthwhile for major events or working off a pre-qualified list of potential high-quality or mega donors.
Given that most people are reluctant to call others these days, telemarketing has become an underutilized yet effective way for your nonprofit to stand out. Sharing a message by phone has been working incredibly well post-Covid as people are looking for connectedness.
Scheduled video calls are another outreach strategy to consider, given how much people got used to them during the pandemic. It’s not quite meeting face-to-face, but the next best thing and allows you to build connections with donors outside your local geography.
Attracting + Managing Donations with Aldrich
Donor outreach is a numbers game. It might take five or six interactions with a donor before they make a significant commitment. But the more strategies you use, especially with the right planning, the more quickly you’ll reach these touchpoints and donations.
For more ideas, check out the nontraditional, innovative strategies you can use. If you have questions about donor acquisition, let’s talk.
Meet the Author
Bobby LaCour, CPA
Aldrich CPAs + Advisors
Bobby joined Aldrich in 2005 and has over ten years of experience in public accounting. He specializes in providing attest and accounting services to nonprofit, manufacturing and other private middle-market entities. He also has extensive experience with internal control and operations analysis. Balboa Park Online Collaborative audit committee member American Society of Certified Public Accountants member... Read more Bobby LaCour, CPA
- Nonprofit organizations
- Public sector
- Government entities
- Foundations and associations
- Certified Public Accountant