• Ron Rescigno

New Donors Are Testing You


If you want to have an acquisition program that’s successful you must understand that the cost of getting that first gift from a new donor is a test, a down payment, if you will, that needs follow up by additional investment on your part in onboarding and learning as much as you can about the donor’s identity and preferences. If all you’re going to do is deposit the check and send a thank you note you’re dooming that donor to be what I call “one-and-done.”

Unfortunately, for reasons of cost-cutting and a variety of other reasons, most organizations consider acquisition finished after that first check is deposited. That is exactly where donor loss begins.

When I look at acquisition budgets I seldom see anything for “additional costs” for steps that need to be followed after the initial gift is received. Could it be that many fundraisers know that doing acquisition the right way is a lot harder than sending out a simple thank you after getting the gift?

Maybe they don’t believe the old saying: it’s easier to keep a donor than it is to continue to find new ones year after year. Not less expensive and not more valuable. Just easier.

An acquisition program that emphasizes building in essential first steps that should follow a new donor’s first check will boost long-term retention and value. But it takes time both to analyze and measure results. Time to improve the new donor experience. Time to test and evaluate improvements. And it does take more money.

Persuading a board and CEO to add more cost to acquisition is difficult, especially now. But if they could be made to understand that with just a 1-2% change in retention there can be an impressive increase in value.

If you want more productive new donor results, stop repeating the same old bad practices and talk to your leaders about how investing more in donor acquisition will result in more donor retention and less reliance on the constant need for more and more new donors.

Rescigno’s can help you with a new donor acquisition, plan. We’ve done it for others and we’ll do it for you.