3 Proven Ways to Find and Convert New Donors
If you’re like every nonprofit on the planet, you’ve got one thing on your mind: acquiring new donors! No matter what your mission is, you’re probably dedicating significant resources to finding potential supporters and getting that first gift. And with donor retention rates on the decline, new donor acquisition is a constant topic of conversation.
It can be even more challenging when you’ve hit a wall in your acquisition efforts. What’s a fundraiser to do when you feel like you’re all out of ideas? We can’t just wish mission-driven donors out of thin air. Finding people who genuinely care about your cause is like making a new friend; it takes time and effort.
It’s Time to Kick It Up a Notch
The good news is that you only need three things to successfully identify, engage, and convert those elusive brand-new donors, and I’ll bet you already have them on hand: data, content, and technology. You have heaps of data. You have high-performing content that many potential donors haven’t seen. You have multiple technologies you can use to put your message in front of complete strangers. Using these three components together in the right ways can help you see real results in your donor acquisition program.
Let’s walk through some practical ways that you and your team can use data, content, and technology to attract new supporters (and I’ll even toss in some pro tips to help you with execution).
1. Leverage Social Media
Meta, Insta, TikTok, LinkedIn, YouTube, and the recently rebranded X. I’m sure you’re using at least one of these social media channels. Whether you’re personally into them or not, social media platforms offer opportunities for connection that go far beyond your database contact list. For most nonprofits, social media can be a treasure trove of potential supporters.
How to Level It Up
Don’t just post twice a week and hope for the best. Develop an acquisition strategy for your top one or two social media channels. You probably need to be spending more time in these online spaces than you are today: The more active and responsive you are, the more likely it is that potential supporters will see your dedication and become interested in your cause.
- Engage with your audience by responding to comments
- Participate in conversations
- Be authentic and avoid highly polished replies
- Track your top 10 or 20 followers and tag them to help share your content
- Ask followers to opt in to your email list for more direct communication,
Pro Tip: Befriend the algorithms with inspiring content. Every social media site uses algorithms to determine what content is displayed on a user’s feed. By producing high-quality, relevant, and compelling content that receives good engagement rates (likes, shares, comments), you can quickly improve your visibility and attract potential donors who may be delighted to see your content and learn about your work.
2. Dig into Your Data to Find Qualified Leads
We all know that your organization is collecting lots of data about people and the actions they take. We have contact information, communication preferences, relationships, social media profiles, and wealth screening data. But we have SO MUCH information in our CRM or database that it’s easy to become stuck in analysis paralysis when it comes to using data for donor acquisition. You don’t have to be in a rut, relying on data only to identify email blast audiences or simply for major donor prospecting work.
Let’s think about your non-donor records. Most organizations have thousands (or many thousands) of supporters who provided their contact information at some point. These people are already open to building a relationship with your organization. What are you doing to convert these thousands of subscribers into donors?
How to Level It Up
Don’t buy an acquisition list! Your own email list is a rich source of potential donors. Use your data to create and send personalized and targeted messages that speak directly to the potential donor’s interests, concerns, and aspirations. Grow your new donor program by stewarding your subscribers as if they were already financial supporters of your organization.
- Use personalization and segmentation to send content that feels personalized and relevant
- Shift into storytelling mode to elicit an emotional response
- Grab people’s attention with video and images rather than relying solely on written content
- Send a short four-question survey to learn more about your potential donor’s interests
- Start small by focusing just on subscribers who already are interacting with your content in some way
Pro Tip: Use a microdonation strategy to convert subscribers into donors. If you have lots of subscribers who’ve been with you for a while but have never donated, think about sending them to a unique donation form with reduced, one-time giving levels. Make it easy for them to give that first gift of $10 and continue to steward the relationship for higher dollar donations down the road.
3. Improve Your Online Donation Process
How many people visit your website every month? Whether the number is in the hundreds or in the millions, your website is another place where content, technology, and data all come together to serve as a major engine for new donor acquisition. Unlike your social media channels, you have complete control. And unlike your CRM or database, these are people who aren’t always known to you.
Website usability data suggests that users often make judgments about a web page within the first few seconds of landing on it. A poorly designed donation form that is hard to navigate, lengthy, or confusing may prompt visitors to leave quickly.
On the flip side, a well-designed donation form is easy to understand. It requires minimal time and effort to fill out. It reassures donors about the security and impact of their donation. A smart online donation form is more likely to retain potential donors’ attention and encourage them to complete the process. If your online donation process is time-consuming, glitchy, or otherwise problematic, you are essentially sending potential new donors away before they make that first gift (often never to return).
How to Level It Up
Modify your donation forms to make them as fast and easy to use as possible. Make a gift yourself and watch for problems or places where a new donor might experience confusion. Ask friends and family to make a small donation and collect feedback. Or better yet, host a screen-share session and watch them make an online gift to see where they struggle or get frustrated.
- Add new payment methods like Apple Pay, Venmo, and Google Wallet
- Make it easy to donate on any size screen, from a phone to a large monitor
- Place charity certification images next to the donation form to increase your organization’s legitimacy in the eyes of a new supporter
- Skip any additional questions; you can ask these in a follow-up email
- Make sure the form is secure and doesn’t generate a browser warning
Pro Tip: Optimize your website for fundraising. If your donate button on your site is in the top right corner of every page, that’s a good start, but you can do more to promote giving on your entire website. Add donate call-to-action images or buttons on your top 20 most visited pages. Include donation buttons or text links at the end of blog posts or articles.
Don’t forget about your website footer. Most of us scroll to the bottom of a web page and pause before navigating back up to the top. You can also test the use of a pop-up box to encourage giving wherever a visitor happens to be on your website.
New Donor Acquisition Is Easier When You’re Focused on the Right Things
The process of finding new donors and converting them into lifelong supporters is a marathon, not a sprint. Gone are the days when organizations relied solely on traditional methods to find and engage donors. By embracing new tools and techniques—from social media and email campaigns to analytics and optimized giving processes—you can uncover sources of new donors that may be right under your nose.
Remember that technology, content, and data are not just buzzwords; they’re powerful allies in achieving your organization’s goals. By using these three key components, your organization can pave the way for sustained donor relationships and increased financial stability.