Test Driving New Methods For Acquisition

Testing and finding new donors are not the easiest things to do. Donor acquisition must have some tie back to engagement and organizational mission while finding prospects not only in the database but from other sources.

Such breakthroughs were discussed at the ANA Nonprofit Federation meeting in Washington, D.C., in a session titled “From Saturation To Success: Acquisition Breakthroughs.” In the cases of DOROT and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, panelists discussed how acquisition could be a stretch, since they are both local and involved in a specific mission.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) works in a limited geographic region and is based in Annapolis, Md., explained Danielle Green, associate director of membership. The organization limits direct mail to states surrounding the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The challenge is that CBF has been mailing in the same market for many years. It also has done a lot of direct mail package testing against a long-standing control that is tough to beat, Green explained.

Fundraisers started looking at untapped markets and decided to try an animal-focused acquisition package. The test lifted response by 30 percent in animal lists and opened up 195,000 names in the animal market, she said.

The takeaway is that developing new creative provided a path to new list strategy. And thus, using a new messaging approach gave CBF an opportunity to target new potential donors.

Also in a specific geographic area is DOROT, a social service organization on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City. DOROT alleviates social isolation among the elderly and provides services to help them live independently as valued members of the community. It serves the Jewish and wider community.

Working in a limited geographically, its case support appeals exclusively to the Jewish list market. The organization has used direct response acquisition for more than 20 years so there is a high market saturation.

The organization mails a fall package with four “meal tickets” with “value” or suggested donation of $36, $72, $180, $360 and an open amount.

Fundraisers tested a Passover specific acquisition package. Fundraisers started with what they already know. Meal ticket coupons strongly motivate response. In the same marketplace, a new look was developed for Passover, a meaningful time of year.

The new Passover package lifted response by 5 percent and gave DOROT a bigger window for prospecting. Without new names to prospect, fundraisers built on the coupon success and developed a new look package for an additional avenue to donors. The new format of the same meal ticket theme increased response by 23 percent, panelists said.