Sleuthing out success in donor acquisition

Acquiring new donors is a tough challenge in today’s economic climate of tight budgets and increasing donor demands for control of and accountability for their gifts.

Add to that the explosion of new causes crying out for support and increasing mailing and production costs, and many ministries face a serious conundrum. As a result, new donor acquisition is succumbing, in many cases, to a depressingly downward spiral.

But we generated significantly improved results from our fall 2011 campaign for Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ). Positive trends included:

– 69% increase in gross income
– 62% increase in ROI
– 60% increase in average gift
– Holding production costs to basically last year’s prices

How did we pull that off in this tumultuous climate of uncertainty and change? In addition to increased media coverage of needs in the Horn of Africa, which is difficult to calculate or quantify, I attribute our success to 5 critical factors:

1. Comprehensive testing over several years that revealed the strongest offers. Then we invested our largest numbers in those winning offers.
2. Enhanced offer strategy that generated larger gifts.
3. Intensive list evaluation that determined the best lists to mail for each offer. Again, we devoted larger numbers to lists that are proven performers.
4. Refined creative – beefing up the emotional impact.
5. Stronger endorsement – moving from endorsers few people knew about, to a super star!

It worked. The client is happy. And we’re clarifying new tests for our next acquisition campaign that again should lead to improved performance.

Being successful and figuring out exactly why is what makes this business so much fun!