I’m writing this post with great trepidation.

Because I want to float the idea that 2017 should be a year for unprecedented donor acquisition.

But as Agitator readers well know, deep down Roger and I continue to believe that too many fundraisers and organizations inexplicably, indefensibly neglect donor retention.

Consequently, it almost pains me to write a post saying: ‘Put the pedal to the metal’ this year on donor acquisition. Because I know how much of that acquisition success will be squandered via the leaky buckets about which Roger warns so effectively.

So promise us … before you invest in a major boost in your acquisition program in 2017, please first revisit, update, invigorate, deepen your donor retention efforts.

Now to acquisition. And I’m talking principally to fundraisers in or serving advocacy organizations.

I expect the political and emotional shock of the impending Trump presidency will not lessen. It will intensify over the coming year, spreading well beyond the relatively small traditional universe of donors who care about and follow ’causes’ and politics. More and more people will be upset, angry, fearful — craving guidance and leadership and hope from the nonprofit sector.

Smart fundraisers should seize the opportunity and be preparing to channel and harness their deep alarm … offering them a way to connect and respond.

Smart fundraisers (while getting their retention house in order) should be:

  1. Scrambling to find every last additional dollar they can invest in expanding (not wildly, but aggressively) their acquisition efforts. [I stress ‘invest’ … this is the year to sell that concept to cautious boards, especially if they’re hoarding funds in low-yield endowments.]
  2. Working to activate and empower current donors as fundraisers, pushing through the conventional barriers to identify and attract new prospects via social media and peer-to-peer ‘evangelism’.
  3. Educating and equipping their organizations to use the best available techniques and recruitment technologies — from predictive modelling to the mobile screen.
  4. Pressing the ‘program’ staff to hone their priorities, their remedies, their calls to action … and collaborate with them to compose the stories that will communicate the needs and ability to make a difference most powerfully.
  5. And doing all these things with emotion so strong that it streams from every hope-bearing message the organization delivers to donors and would-be donors in the months ahead.

Does this describe your commitment to donor acquisition for the coming year? If not, why not?



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