A half-dozen paths for breakthrough acquisition control

Nonprofits want to acquire new donors, but as Jennifer Vanderveld of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, Betsy Wason of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Lisa Maska of Lautman Maska Neill & Company said during the DMA 2014 Washington Nonprofit Conference, the goal is to acquire new donors who will stay with the organization and upgrade over time, and to acquire them at the lowest possible investment.

They said breakthrough acquisition control is possible by employing the following strategies:

  • Get to know the market. Look at lists by category. Study the control packages of the organization’s best lists, because that is what the most sought-after donors are responding to.
  • Monitor performance over time. If the organization is retaining new donors well and seeing donor value increase, it can afford to invest more.
  • Track donor retention rates. A lower response rate might be all right if the organization can see that it is keeping more of the donors it acquires.
  • Keep tabs on donor value. An organization can invest more when it knows donor value is high.
  • Map out the testing agenda for the year. Craft a plan based on concrete goals: increasing response, gift, retention. The plan should be adjusted through the year.
  • Never stop testing, even when results are great.