Back to School ... Back to Acquisition
Don’t expect trust with the first gift
We all love undesignated giving. But a non-donor doesn’t have any reason to trust you. Asking him or her to give you $20 to use as you see fit can stop any potential donor in his or her tracks. For the first gift, ask for a specific amount to do a very specific thing. You can wean them to undesignated giving after you’ve built the trust factor.
Unless you have a clearly defined offer at a higher dollar amount (for example, the $240 surgery from Operation Smile), ask for a smaller gift. Acquisition is about turning non-donors into donors. A smaller ask is usually more comfortable for people who don’t yet know and trust you. Focus on upgrading once you get them to begin giving.
Make it easy to respond
For an e-mail acquisition campaign, send responders to a landing page that's created just for that message. Don’t expect a potential donor to navigate your homepage to find the generic donation page. For a direct-mail piece, make sure the reply card is user-friendly. Instead of cramming the credit card information on the front, expecting donors to write in four-point cursive, invite them to “Please turn over to give by credit card.” Then, print a spacious area for them to write in their credit card information. Yes, this can mess up automated processing of the responses, but the goal is to secure new donors, not win the “automated nonprofit of the year” award.
Have a strategy for securing the second gift
Even when there is a solid plan in place, half or more of first-time donors often don’t give second gifts. Run some numbers: How much more would you raise if 10 percent more of your first-time donors gave second gifts of the same amount? Acquisition is expensive, so we ought to put some time and money into making sure we aren’t securing what a colleague of mine called “drive-by donors.”