5 Keys to Prospecting on a Budget
Use cheap names, focus on those closest to you
Focus on opportunities in your file first. You don't need a Ph.D. to know that you'll always get better results from those who have a relationship with your organization.
Your file is full of them, and you may not even know it. They may include:
- Lapsed donors or members
- Event-related (peer-to-peer fundraisers, participants, attendees, facility visitors)
- Online subscribers (e-newsletters, e-commerce, banner ad clicks)
- Service beneficiaries (alumni, job placement recipients, professional services recipients)
- Active non-donor constituents (advocates, volunteers, partners)
Organizations are hesitant to cross-pollinate programs for fear of blowback, but these folks have an affinity to your organization and many are just waiting to be asked.
Here are a few suggestions that have worked for a number of organizations:
- Know your people! Use a model with prior cross-program conversions to identify and segment these groups. Knowing a good profile of those likely to convert helps you make smart decisions about how you manage the conversion process.
- Have a plan. Using what you've learned from your data, build a plan around the patterns that you identify. Know when to push, and know when to pull back. This means constantly measuring and adjusting your strategy.
- Test! I can't stress this enough. What do you do when you're done testing? Test some more. Find what works, find what doesn't and try something different.
- Be smart, but don't give up. Just because advocates didn't convert on the first few appeals you sent them doesn't mean they don't want to give. Change the messaging, make the ask softer or combine it with an advocacy ask.
Identify major or legacy donors
Showing management that certain large contributors or legacy intentions came to the organization as a result of an acquisition effort can have a powerful effect on conveying the value of a strong acquisition program. This can be done from a financial perspective, as one major donor can make a huge impact on the organization. I've worked with a handful of organizations where eventual board members came to the organization initially through direct-marketing acquisition. Similarly, I've worked with a few organizations that have acquired individuals that eventually had influence outside of direct financial contributions, including politicians, public figures and thought leaders.