Lolly Colombo & David Stolberg

QUICK SHOT: How to maximize ROI from a simple acquisition piece this fall!

It’s almost Fall, y’all.

And countless nonprofit organizations across the country are preparing for a very busy acquisition season. The most important thing to keep top-of-mind is that every new donor could lead to new opportunities; and as such, you should treat every new donor as special.

Need we even say it? We will anyway: new donors are special!

Here’s a very powerful example of that: Last fall, Jeopardy host and all-around wonderful human being, Alex Trebek, wound up on our client’s acquisition rental list. This was just sheer luck. As we’d do with any new name on a rental list, we mailed him a typical direct mail acquisition piece. He responded with a first-time gift of $200!

Through our New Donor Bonding program – a triggered affirmation program designed to thank donors for their generosity and encourage future giving – we immediately thanked Alex via direct mail for his generous gift. We included a follow-up survey with a soft ask and a no-ask thank you call.

Alex responded with another gift of $200!

Something to note – and this is important – we reach out this same way to ANY new donor. Big things can happen when you create a program that recognizes and reaffirms how special new donors are!

As a result of that thank you phone call, Alex contacted the organization and arranged for a tour through a new transitional housing facility our client is planning to open. After the tour, Alex cut a check for $100,000! He also agreed to his gift being leveraged as a matching offer later in the year.

If we ended here, this would be an amazing story about the power of acquisition. But wait… it gets even better!

Six months later, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alex reached out again to inquire on the progress of their new facility and go on a second tour. He was so impressed that he made another gift to the organization. This time: a gift of $500,000!

When National media outlets such as TMZ and CNN picked up the story, the organization went viral. Since then, encouraged by Alex’s support, numerous community organizers rallied to help raise additional funds for the organization’s capital campaign.

Pretty amazing story of just how far a simple acquisition piece can go, right?

The takeaway here is to create an acquisition program that treats all new donors as special… exceptionally so! BDI does this by encouraging our clients to follow up – as quickly as possible – with all new and reactivated donors. First, by sending a thank you note within a few days of the gift and then, with an engagement device like a survey that includes a soft ask and a no-ask thank you call.

With every nonprofit targeting new donors this fall, it’s important to cut through the noise with vibrant and focused direct mail that speaks to the urgent need and the impact of the donor’s generosity. Once a gift is received, it’s vital to implement a prompt and robust thank-you strategy that sets your organization apart from any others the donor might support. Even more importantly, a successful affirmation strategy should engage the donor and make them feel their gift is truly special to your organization.

While not every organization will acquire an Alex Trebek this fall, every new donor should be treated as if they’re just as important… because they are!

  • Lolly Colombo, Exec VP Client Services

    Lolly Colombo, Chief Client Officer

    With over 30 years of program and agency experience, Lolly Colombo has brought her passion, expertise and heart of service to some of the world’s most beloved charities and faith-based organizations. She has had the pleasure of serving with Food for the Hungry, The Christian Broadcasting Network, Operation Blessing International,TBN, In Touch Ministries, The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, The Salvation Army, Gospel Rescue Missions and others.


    David Stolberg, Strategist/Senior Account Director

    With 10 years of experience partnering with Rescue Missions and nonprofit organizations, David Stolberg brings his own unique perspective and passion to his role as Account Director and Strategist. Prior to joining the team at BDI, he worked for Nike corporate in sports marketing and worked in sales with a commercial real estate marketing company, and that competitive drive and spirit of innovation still fuels him today.

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