A Key Tool in the Acquisition Toolbox
In recent years, fundraisers have faced declining results from ‘traditional’ acquisition channels such as direct mail – the once standard bearer of most donor acquisition programs. This shift has left fundraisers searching for new tools to grow their donor base and revenue.
But finding acquisition techniques that deliver on volume, at an acceptable cost, is a challenge. Larger organizations are making good use of face-to-face fundraising, which has been particularly successful at acquiring new monthly donors. However, as there can be high attrition rates on these donors, it’s not an option for many organizations.
A 3 step approach to growing your donor base
Fortunately, there is a relatively new tool in the fundraising toolbox which is gaining popularity as organizations experiment with it: Online Lead Generation and Conversion. It’s also a tool that Stratcom has been helping some of our clients develop. This cost-effective and easily accessible approach works by combining several channels and taking a multi-step approach to attracting, engaging, and then securing new donors.
Step 1: Generating Leads
The first step is to engage and find new potential donors through online advertising such as Google Ad Words, Facebook Ads, Twitter and other social media platforms and websites. The most successful by far is Facebook. Facebook’s targeting capabilities and multiple products make it today’s workhorse for digital lead generation.
Additionally, petition hosting websites work well in conjunction with online ads in generating a healthy stream of new leads.
Whatever the advertising channel, you want to develop and promote compelling campaigns that create an initial engagement point with a prospect and begin a relationship. Petitions are one method – and probably the most effective – but they’re not the only way. People can share a video, sign a pledge, or request more information. At this stage of engagement, contact information and permission is acquired for further follow-up (as required by the CRTC and CASL in Canada and PECR and GDPR regulation in the UK and EU).
Another added value? The online advertising component of this tool can get your organization tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, even millions of impressions.
Step 2: Engagement
The next step is usually a welcome series by email, perhaps including a soft fundraising ask. To maximize the conversion rates, it is important to first engage these new prospects on your cause with care to build empathy and a rapport with them.
Step 3: Conversion to donor
The email series is then followed up as quickly as possible with a phone call. On this call, the supporter is thanked, welcomed, updated on your work, and asked for a monthly donation. We’ve found that the highest response rates correlate with calling the donor quickly, within 1 or 2 weeks, after taking the initial online action.
Expected conversion rates will depend on sector and campaign, but it’s not uncommon to see 6-8% of the list signing up as a monthly donor. There is a fallback ask on the call for one-time gifts that will add even more donations and revenue. Many phone programs will break even in 12-18 months, while the average phone-acquired monthly donor will keep giving for 5 to 7 years (and in many cases longer). The long-term value and ROI are enormous.
Multiple channels = better success rates
This multi-step approach to generating leads and converting them has been effective for many organizations. The key to its success is ensuring that both the email and the phone program are utilized effectively. The initial phone call will generate a very strong monthly response rate, and both email and phone will generate one-time-gifts. You’ll want a robust email fundraising program to recoup the cost of lead acquisition and generate additional net income. This can be done in a year or less. Your new leads can be used in other fundraising channels, and by your campaign encouraging further actions and engagement with your organization. Both channels, email and phone, are important to the success of these types of programs, and each can contribute about half the expected revenue they generate. If you are only doing one of these two things, email or phone, you could be losing up to half of your potential revenue!
Mobilise (SMS giving)
Mobilise is a great new tool for allowing potential donors to give easily and monthly through their mobile phone, managing their donation automatically through SMS messaging. The integration of Mobilise to the digital lead organizations acquisition toolbox will unlock many new ways to engage your donors and raise more money. Since many online petition signers will volunteer their mobile phone number, including Moblise as one of the follow up options will further increase revenue for lead generation activities, thereby reducing investment costs, and increasing ROI.
For more information on Stratcom’s lead generation and lead conversion services please contact:
416.537.6100 x 64
For UK clients, contact:
+44 203 6951 633 ext 92
+772 9500 502