January 2013.

“Every choice you make has an end result.” ~Zig Ziglar

This e-newsletter was written by Mandy O’Neill.

If you want your 2013 end-of-year fundraising higher than what you just achieved in 2012, you’ve got to grow your donor base. Now’s the time to get started! Direct mail acquisition is flat and major donor acquisition takes time, and online acquisition is fast, low-cost and hot right now. So hot, we are highlighting the best tips for online acquisition in a three part series all this month. In the first e-newsletter of our three part series, we will start with the lowest cost tips for the highest return.

Is your acquisition flat? Looking for a shot in arm? Online acquisition might be the boost you need. We already know you need a professional online program because:

• About 10% of the average nonprofit’s revenue comes in online
• Over 64% of major donors check out your website before investing in your nonprofit—and 80% of those big dollar donors have actually donated online
• 95% of grant reviewers look at your website when reviewing your grant application; and
• The annual gross revenue from multichannel donors is typically four times that of offline-only donors and three times that of online-only donors

What you may not know: is how valuable the online channel is to growing your donor file.

Online acquisition is faster, cheaper, and more successful than other channels
Most nonprofit revenue comes in via direct mail, major donors, peer-to-peer fundraising, grants, and services revenue. But new donor acquisition has been flat since 2008 in direct mail, at the same time online acquisition has grown in size and sophistication. Why? Mostly because it’s easier to target qualified leads online. And, while we’re about to share some tips and examples for effective online acquisition please note that we have learned that your newly acquired donors from online channels need to be put immediately into your direct mail stream in order to retain them and to get the ever-valuable second gift.

Tips and Examples

Welcome Series
We found the first 30 days are critical to converting a new lead into a donor. Yep, acquiring the lead is only half the battle. Before you even start an acquisition campaign, make sure you have an effective Welcome Series or your investment in generating new leads will be wasted. We generally recommend a three-email series that starts with a welcome and impact statement describing what donors accomplish with their donations through your organization, but no hard ask. The second email should be an interest survey; two or three questions that identity the topic of interest your subscriber values most. The third email is a hard-ask appeal based on the interest segment of your subscriber and needs to drop before your 30 day window expires.

You don’t have to be an advocacy organization, or heavily into public affairs to effectively use petitions. Nonprofits utilize Care2 and Change.org to generate new leads. The National Parks Conservation Association (follow this link for an example of a petition) runs several petition campaigns right from their website a year to grow their housefile. Before jumping into a “petition-to-grow” program, though, we’d recommend testing some low-cost targeted Facebook or Google Ads that lead to an engagement mechanism like a survey, quiz, petition, or simply a sign-up for more information. Adding an ad campaign allows you to reach new targeted “qualified” audiences that care about your issue.

Stay tuned for #2 of our three part series next week; we’ll talk about social media campaigns and other ways of growing your donor base online.

Mandy O’Neill is our Guest Writer for Tips and Examples of What’s Working in Online Acquisition (3 part series). She is the Chief Strategist and Founder of ConnectedNonprofit, a boutique online marketing agency that helps nonprofits with online growth initiatives, new channels of fundraising, and refreshing current online programs. You can reach her directly at mandy@connectednonprofit.com.