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Our Tried and True Guide to Identifying New Donors

Ronnie Gomez

In a perfect world, new donor acquisition would be as simple as a sent donation request. Unfortunately, due to increased competition, distractions, and noise, it’s rarely that easy.

The truth is, there is no one best way to get donors. It varies by goal, audience, and organization. However, when you do factor in these variables, there are quite a few ways to narrow down the best donor acquisition strategy for your organization.

In order to do this, you need to dig into your data using both qualitative and quantitative research.

The Quantitative

Data is a beautiful thing, but sometimes, it can just look like a bunch of numbers. If you’re struggling to make sense of your nonprofit’s stats and figures, use these tips to get a better look at the bigger picture.

Identify Data-Backed Opportunities

The best donor acquisition goals will present you with the biggest opportunity to make an impact on your bottom line. While it is possible to identify these opportunities on a hunch, your best bet is to use your data.

A good CRM solution should provide you with an at-a-glance view of your organization’s current performance. For example, Neon’s Mission Control dashboard pulls system data to give you an overview of your nonprofit’s performance. That way, your most important metrics are always one click away.

Having these numbers readily available can provide you with the additional insights needed to make better decisions for your nonprofit.

Translate Numbers into Insights  

When it comes to donor acquisition, your nonprofit’s data can give you confirmation on what has worked in the past and hints on what might work in the future.

Consider this example: say you’ve pulled your data and found that a month ago, you experienced a significant spike in your new donor acquisition rate after hosting an on-site event where potential donors were able to meet with staff and hear constituent testimonials. This proves that the event and all its details inspired new people to make an investment in your mission.

Analyzing spikes and dips in your donor acquisition stats can provide you with a deeper understanding of what works for your mission, which makes deciding on next steps much easier. Keeping a close eye on this data helps us get to the core of how you can better engage your supporters.

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The Qualitative

If quantitative research widens your insights, then qualitative research deepens them. While it will likely require a bit more of your time, it will also provide you with a better understanding of your donor’s decision process. Here’s how to do it:

Reach Out to Your First-Time Donors

What’s the best way to get an answer to a question? Easy — just ask someone. And if your question is “what is driving new people to donate to my organization?”, those ‘someones’ should be recent first-time donors.

Reach out to a few people who have recently donated to your organization for the first time and ask why they chose to make their donation. That way, you’ll be able to drill down on the exact detail that made them give.

#NeonNonprofitTip: Use your outreach as an opportunity to practice good donor stewardship. Give a sincere thank you, then ask if they would mind answering a few questions about their donation experience.

Create Donor Personas

A donor persona is a fictional representation of a particular segment of your audience. They are built using the insights gathered from your qualitative research, and can be supplemented using quantitative data.

So how do these help with identifying potential donors? Simple — when your audience is clearly segmented, it’s easier to understand how those segments traditionally discover your organization and convert into donors.  Once you have a grasp on that, it’s all a matter of optimizing and improving those experiences.

Click here for a deeper dive on establishing donor personas.

Building Your Donor Acquisition Strategy

Combining your quantitative data with qualitative insights will give you a more comprehensive understanding of how to best attract new potential donors. Once you have that, the rest is simply a matter of testing and fine-tuning.

How do you take the guesswork out of identifying potential donors? If you have any tips you’d like to share, leave them in the comments below!


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