Two principles that drive successful fundraising campaigns are:
1. Acquisition programs are the foundation upon which an organization builds its grassroots base of support; and
2. The most promising prospects for building a profitable fundraising program are an organization’s current donors.
Therefore, it is essential to acquire and build a viable grassroots base of support with donors who can be renewed, upgraded and cultivated for mid-level gifts and who can ultimately feed your major- and planned-gift pipeline.
These goals can be accomplished through multi-channel fundraising campaigns that move donors to higher levels of giving over time.
The first step to building a successful fundraising campaign is to conduct donor data analyses that unlock the wealth of knowledge contained within your constituent database. This inclusive retrospective examination of your donor and program performance should start with an in-depth understanding of how and why constituents become engaged in your organization. It can then help you recognize giving patterns, identify negative and positive trends, and establish critical benchmarks for stimulating significant growth.
Next, it’s essential to use integrated direct mail and digital media fundraising strategies to cultivate your organization’s grassroots support and boost your fundraising capacity. Once your acquisition program is on track, your goal should be to swiftly turn these “valued” supporters into “valuable” mid-level donors. Regardless of their giving level, it’s imperative to upgrade grassroots donors within the first few years of their support, or you will lose them.
Most important, you should then build mid-level giving programs that increase participation and revenue generated from this pool of select donors. You can start by defining, and naming, an appropriate giving society or “club” into which donors can upgrade their level of support—donors who you know have both the capacity and propensity to do more. Identify these donors through precise prospect-rating tools that help you direct your donor messages and relationships to maximize their engagement in your organization.
Every fundraising campaign must incorporate analyses that measure your donors’ long term value and, in turn, develop a strategy and plan to improve your organization’s overall return on investment. You can significantly improve your overall cost per donor over time by improving your creative approach, testing new and more cost-effective concepts, potentially adjusting your donor acquisition schedule and improving list selection based on past results and analyses.
These tried and true tactics are fundamental to your organization’s long-term fundraising success.