Donor-Acquisition Strategies During Tough Times
Acquisition is one of the toughest endeavors in the fundraising sector. Acquiring new donors is costly, budgets are tight and the next wave of donors has different needs than prior generations.
At the Association of Fundraising Professionals' Fundraising Day in New York last month, Clint O'Brien, vice president of business development at Care2, laid out acquisition techniques in today's fundraising landscape in the session, "Acquisition in Tough Times: Finding New Donors Without Breaking the Bank."
The major problem is that direct-mail acquisition of new donors has continued to decline in the past 10 years while the average age of donors continues to rise. So where are you going to get donors? According to O'Brien, the best places are online channels — not direct mail.
"Direct mail is great for cultivation," he said, "but not for acquisition anymore because people want permission for contact."
Search: SEO vs. SEM
"Anyone searching for you is valuable to you by definition," O'Brien said. "They are clearly interested in your cause or something about your organization."
That's where search comes in, both organic and paid. Organic search, or search engine optimization (SEO), is all about getting your website found — and the goal is to get your site found by valuable people searching for information about you and your cause. The key is page rank, O'Brien said, and he offered the following advice:
- Include in your site's content (title tags and meta data as well) key search words, e.g. "help homeless," "protect whales," "stop fracking," etc. Be literal in word choice.
- Update your website pages often so search engines crawl your site more often.
- Encourage other sites to link to you to boost page rank.
The pluses of SEO are the costs are one-time and it's a good way to retain donors as well. However, creating content takes time and effort, something that not every nonprofit has the staff to accommodate as regularly as it'd like.