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April 7, 2017

Donor Journey Part 1: Acquisition

Sam and Martha started giving to The Salvation Army in 1992.  They were acquired through a normal direct mail appeal, and gave $250 total that first year.  Over the next 16 years, they gave $250-$500 per year, responding to Christmas appeals and youth program campaigns.  Although they were annual sustainers of the mission, their giving amount wasn’t enough for them to show up on the development office’s radar.  Until …

donor journey acquisition

All fundraisers know that acquisition is really important to their charity’s long-term success, because every donor has to start their relationship with a nonprofit somewhere.

Here are a few reasons why acquisition is an important part of the donor journey:

  • Every organization, whether charitable or commercial, experiences donor (or customer) attrition.
  • In order to continue a growing pool of constituents, every group must make a regular investment into activities that draw new people (donors, customers) into the fold.
  • For The Salvation Army, approximately 35 to 40 percent of all donors who contributed in any given year will not contribute during the following year.
  • It’s the best way to get your organization’s name out to the widest audience.
  • 90 percent of Major Gifts and Planned Gifts first came on the donor file through acquisition.
People move, alter their loyalties, experience change in their income, become disinterested, or pass away.  Many of the common reasons that donors cite for “lapsing” is that they feel underappreciated, over-asked, and all-around disconnected from the mission and ministry of The Salvation Army.  For too long, requests for support have been seen as impersonal “ATM” efforts — transactional giving ploys, with little thought given to the relationships that need to be authentically developed for long-term committed giving and brand loyalty.

TrueSense Marketing has developed an innovative series of donor communication strategies that are designed to focus first on the donor relationship.  This most often means less mail, but more targeted communication based on donor preferences and patterns.  The goal is to stop “putting the squeeze” on the donors, and to begin a genuine partnership that is respectful and honest.  But it all starts with getting as many of the right donors as possible in the door for the first time …

Here are the keys to increasing income and lifetime value from donors who are committed to your work:
  • Acquire enough new donors each year to offset natural attrition, and increase the number of active donors who will support you throughout the whole year.
  • Acquire higher-value donors.  The first gift from any donor is a solid indication of ongoing gift level, so the initial average gift of new donors is also important.
  • Acquire these high-value donors at the best possible long-term ROI.
This is #1 in a series of 5 posts about the Donor Journey. Check back to learn more about Sam and Martha and their Donor Journey with The Salvation Army.

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