Stop Cutting Your New Donor Acquisition Mailings!

Stop Cutting Your New Donor Acquisition
Date Published
Bill Blinstrub

If I had a nickel label package for every time a client called me wanting to cut acquisition mail….

The joke and reference here, of course, is the popularity and effectiveness of Nickel/Label packages in new donor acquisition mailings. The packages work—prospects generally respond very well to them—but clients don’t like the cost. Lets’ face it, it’s hard to see the value of a mailing that loses money. But take a look at the 2% response rate: very good for an acquisition and high average gift. And remember, without this mailing you don’t find this new donor.

But the mailing lost money.

OK, well, yes, it did in the short term. That’s the cost to acquire a new donor. Try to take the long view and look at the value of that donor over the lifetime of her/his relationship with your organization.

Keep in mind that all of your current donors will not give every year. Some only give every several years. If you are not bringing new donors in to replace them, revenue declines. It’s that simple.

Rather than cut acquisition, work harder at it. Develop a more cost-effective package with stronger copy. Test more new lists. Better yet, build a custom list model! Mail your Multis! You paid for the names; talk to them again. It’s often easy (and economically advisable) to use the exact same package but add a simple laser copy change to acknowledge that you touched them before. Donors like that acknowledgment. It makes the communication more personal and relevant. And that leads to better conversion.

Still thinking of cutting new donor acquisition? Recall the real-life lessons learned from American Cancer Society, which in 2013 stopped mailing acquisition. In year one, they estimated $11 million in revenue lost. And unexpectedly, they saw an immediate impact on donor renewals as well. Proof of just how quickly acquisition fills the funnel. ACS estimates that they lost $30 million by cutting acquisition.

They returned to direct mail acquisition in 2014.

The other critical lesson that ACS learned was that for every $1 they spent in acquisition, they made $7 over the next three years.

Short-term loss. Long-term gain.

When planning direct mail acquisition efforts, always think long term. If you are revenue positive with an acquisition mailing, you’re probably not mailing enough quantity. Avoid premium offers as well; focus on finding mission-based donors. This will keep costs in check and also limit attrition by not attracting donors who only gave for a specific gift.

Acquisition mailings are an exciting opportunity to introduce your organization to its next generation of supporters. Embrace this courtship ritual. Your future fundraising depends on it!

Want to learn more about new donor acquisition strategy? Contact us today!

About the Author:
Bill Blinstrub
Senior Account Executive, Agency Services

Years in the industry

6 in Fundraising, 20+ in direct mail and marketing

Role at the Company

I develop and execute client strategy, as well as provide results analysis and budget management. I am the key face-to-face client contact, advising on all fundraising activities, best practices, trends, whatever my clients need! If my client needs something, I make it happen!

What excites you about your work at AFG?

I love the people, and the culture. AFG really creates a positive, proactive environment that empowers me to fully immerse myself in serving my clients. No idea is off limits, new thinking is encouraged, and everyone works together to meet one common goal.

What are your hobbies/interests outside AFG?

I am an avid- but not fast- runner. I enjoy competing in road races whenever possible. Its a great way to experience a new city/place, and I love running “unplugged”, no headphones. I love to hear the sounds of nature around me. Running really allows me to connect with a place and its people.

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