Donor Acquisition

By | June 16, 2017

Welcome Sign“Donor Acquisition” describes the process by which a person is transformed from a non-donor to an active donor. When a person makes their first donation, you have ‘acquired’ a new donor.

Donor acquisition is an essential part of any fundraising program. It is also the most expensive part. Why is that? Because donor acquisition requires that you invest your efforts in communicating with a large number of potential donors, with all of the associated costs, with the expectation that a certain percentage will make the transformation from non-donor to donor.

What does donor acquisition look like? It depends on what kind of fundraising program you’re working with. If you are doing a direct mail program, it means getting lists of non-donors and sending out large numbers of letters asking people to make their first donation. For an e-mail campaign, you might rent e-mail lists and sent out donation requests electronically. Or you might be putting your donate information into various social media programs.

In the parish setting, donor acquisition means using the various communications tools at your disposal to encourage people to incorporate giving to the Church as a part of their life of faith. You have opportunities during homilies or announcements, with bulletin inserts, emails, posters in the Narthex, events, or even by doing a month-long stewardship campaign that encourages everyone to give their time, talent, and tithe.

Donor Acquisition is an essential part of your fundraising program, because some of your donors will stop giving every year. The reality is that if you aren’t consistently asking enough new people to make their first gift, your number of active donors will steadily decrease. If you have a serious direct mail or e-mail fundraising program, a good rule of thumb is you should be reaching out to 16 times as many potential donors as your total number of active donors every year.

If you’re just starting your fundraising program, donor acquisition will be your main focus. I’ll talk about different donor acquisition strategies under each of the different fundraising type.


Need some new ideas on how to fundraise? Check out The Fundraiser’s Playbook and find the fundraising strategy that will work best for you!

Image courtesy of psyberartist, via Creative Commons License, some rights reserved.