You Asked—Fundraising Questions Answered
Last week, David Gunn from Salsa Labs and I presented a webinar hosted by NonProfit PRO. The title was, "Fundraising Acquisition: How to Grow Your List and Engage New Supporters." (You can access the recording of the webinar here.)
Several questions were submitted before and during the webinar. Given that if one person asks, there are probably others wondering the same thing, I'll provide my opinion on some of those questions over the next few weeks.
What do you mean by the source of the donor? Every donor comes to you by some means—they attend an event, they respond to a direct mail appeal, they click on your banner ad, etc. Whatever triggered that first gift (well, as best as you can tell, based on their action of returning a response form, clicking, showing up or whatever) is their source. And yes, some will simply send in a gift in their own envelope so you have no idea what the trigger was; these are sourced as "white mail," or whatever term your organization uses to signify "we have no idea."
The source matters because different sources have different retention rates, attract donors with different levels of knowledge about your organization, even move the donor to give based on different feelings and emotions. Some sources acquire more new donors, but they may not be as "sticky" because it was more emotion-based—a knee-jerk reaction, if you will (for example, a donation in response to an emotional ask related to a natural disaster).
If you acquire a large number of donors from a single source, you may want to talk to them differently in the first few mailings. You may stop re-soliciting them sooner because your history shows that donors from Source X have a low second-gift rate, while donors from Source Y have much greater second-gift and retention rates. Knowing the source of a donor can help you make decisions and refine your communication based on habits of donors from a single source.