When a nonprofit organization is looking to trim its fundraising costs, acquisition often gets nominated for the chopping block. It's cheaper and more efficient to reactivate lapsed donors or upgrade current donors than to acquire new ones, after all.
However, if an organization hopes to survive and thrive for years to come, acquisition is essential. That's why the best fundraisers fight for every acquisition dollar in the budget they can, no matter how tough of a sell it might be to the executive team or board of directors.
That's why the Michigan Humane Society (MHS) went in with a focused, strategic plan to present to its board of directors and executive team, laying out why acquisition is essential for MHS to meet its goals moving forward. After several meetings, everyone was on board.
"We're very fortunate that we have a leadership team in place that understands the value of acquisition and understands that the lifetime value and return on investment is something that, if you do it right, you will absolutely see the kind of growth and support that you need to consistently enhance your organization and enhance your service delivery," says Marta Diffen, vice president of development at MHS.
It helps that the animal-welfare organization — whose mission is to end companion-animal homelessness, provide the highest quality service and compassion to the animals entrusted into its care, and promote humane values — has a comprehensive strategic plan in place that takes MHS out to 2015 and then 2020. That plan has some pretty aggressive goals, Diffen says, and "in order to do these things and meet these needs and meet the goals and objectives, we need to add a better foundation, get more robust, get more comprehensive with the way we manage our fundraising."
Part of that strategic plan is looking at how MHS acquires new donors and what is needed to add more members to the donor file. So MHS began talking with its partner, nonprofit fundraising and direct-marketing communications agency Grizzard Communications Group, about some of the challenges it faces in Southeastern Michigan and what sort of things it can do to acquire new donors.