As technology continues to evolve and improve, the ability to connect and communicate with donors has continued in the same trajectory.
In 2018, we know more about prospective donors than ever before. We have more ways in which to communicate with prospective donors, and we know that it’s possible to communicate more personally with every single prospect.
So, why are nonprofits finding donor acquisition increasingly difficult and expensive? Well, I think there are three main reasons that it’s both difficult and costly to acquire new donors.
1. Prospective donors are bombarded with communications.
Communication happens not just in the mailbox outside your home. Rather, communication is in people’s email accounts (yes plural), in their social media interactions, and in ads that show up on websites they visit every day.
There’s not a lot you can control in how much communication a prospective donor receives, but there are variables that are within your control. In other words, nonprofits need to be strategic and deliberate when reaching out to prospective donors about giving.
2. Organizations are not maximizing the strengths of the channels they’re using in their communications.
Every marketing channel has its own strengths and its own weaknesses. What works well in one channel doesn’t necessarily work in others.
Take the time to plan how to make the best use of the strengths that different channels provide. It’s great to know as much as possible about the interests and behavior of your prospects. At the same time, remember that there’s just as much “art” in how to use that information as the “science” that goes into getting it.
Efforts where organizations have taken the time to focus on the strengths of each channel are much more effective than those that are simply repeating communications in different channels. As in the case of Care Net, the telephone provided an avenue to connect individually with prospective donors who had already received the mail piece. Because a live operator was on the phone, the prospective donor could have their questions answered in real time — something that just isn’t possible in a direct mail piece (and since it followed up the direct mail piece, the call wasn’t out of the blue!). This impacted both the mail results as well as the direct results from the call.
3. All too often, communication with prospective donors lacks a clear and compelling offer.
Some of the best technique-based packages of the past don’t often translate well to other media. For instance, you can’t take a label package and make it work in the digital world.
While the techniques might not transfer well to different channels, a clear, compelling offer translates into every available medium: It works in the mail. It works digitally. It works in broadcast media. And it works over the phone!
Providing your prospects with a problem or opportunity that the donor believes his or her gift will solve – or help to solve – with a clear consequence for inaction will improve your donor acquisition performance across every channel.