NARAL Pro-Choice America often is perceived as being on the fringe. That’s a given.
On the plus side, that perception helps the Washington, D.C.-based pro-choice activist organization attract passionate supporters. Indeed, Stephanie Kushner, director of development for NARAL Pro-Choice America, says her major donors need fewer tangible benefits because they’re motivated by pure zeal for the organization’s work.
But NARAL Pro-Choice America’s edgy rep has closed some fundraising avenues. Fearful that their donors and prospects will be hostile to receiving its messages, many less political nonprofits are reluctant to exchange lists with the organization. And acquisition is hard enough without this added barrier cutting off access to new, viable prospects.
That challenge has made success with reinstatement of lapsed donors and donor cultivation crucial, and for the past half decade the organization has been busy fine-tuning its fundraising and membership programs to grow its housefile.
Over the past five or six years, NARAL Pro-Choice America has become aggressively committed to building its acquisition and reinstatement program, oiled its donor-stewardship efforts, and enhanced the direct-response component of its major-donor program, the area where it has seen its greatest response and growth, according to Membership Director Jennifer Donahue.
To say these efforts have worked for the organization is an understatement: Its housefile has ballooned from about 70,000 names in 2000 to roughly 260,000 dues-paying members today.
From lure to hook
Acquisition and reinstatement for a membership-based political advocacy organization can pose challenges, especially when it brings members on — as NARAL Pro-Choice America used to — to support ever-changing hot-button issues.
Around the time of the 2000 elections, the organization realized that its housefile was shrinking. Donahue says one of the main reasons for the drop-off was its acquisition and reinstatement program, which used issue-specific messaging.
“People would join and become members, but they were crisis members. They weren’t staying with the organization, and so they would drop off and we would see that yo-yo-ing of our file,” she says.