Ahh yes, Fall acquisition. It’s a time of year where nonprofits and agencies alike put their heads down and get ready to power through the busiest fundraising season of the year. Most nonprofits receive the majority of their yearly income during the last three months of the year… about a third in December alone!
So it’s really important to lay out a strong strategy to raise those crucial funds. But last year, in 2020, many of my Rescue Mission clients were faced with a new challenge: how to approach their Fall acquisition strategy during COVID-19. With a pandemic raging, what would acquisition look like in 2020? And how could they guarantee that their decisions would lead to a good response in such uncertain times?
Today, I want to share with you the story of how one of my Rescue Mission clients successfully paved a new, trajectory-altering path through their 2020 Fall acquisition. By making these simple changes, they received extraordinary results… and here’s how you can do the same.
Data: Yours, Mine and Ours
What’s the strongest results-driven approach to acquisition? A mix of integrated print and digital campaigns. But for my Rescue Mission client, we were seeing wildly different results: Print was performing exceptionally, while digital was not.
The BDI Team dug into the data and made a surprising discovery: Despite an already healthy print acquisition budget, BDI found that there were a lot more responsive prospects available in their marketplace. Prospect names are rented from lists meticulously selected by BDI’s media team.
My own recommendation is to max out at around 30% list penetration. As a ministry approaches (or exceeds) this 30% threshold, results predictably decline. But my Rescue Mission client was only penetrating their selected lists at 20%, indicating that there were even more responsive prospects available.
Using BDI’s annual Donor Performance Analysis, my client’s data and industry benchmarks, I showed this Rescue Mission that a new donor to their ministry was projected to give about $250 in the next 5 years. As a result, they increased their print acquisition budget 20% to reach these predictably responsive – and valuable! – prospects. Showing the long-term return on converting these prospects into donors was essential to my client fully understanding the opportunity.
I say “Our Data” because while the Rescue Mission had almost no internal digital results, I shared the digital results of our BDI clients nationally. Being able to project a likely audience response helped this client invest in digital acquisition much more confidently.
The digital goal was to get the ministry a win and establish a baseline to guide even larger digital investment in the future. Practicing Luke 16:10, in real time, allows you to sleep well with your bold decisions next year!
Consider “Their” Data, Too
Decisions are not made in a vacuum. We were also able to share with our Rescue Mission client that their primary local “competition” had recently made dramatic changes to their brand, leadership and agency that presented a unique window of opportunity in their shared market.
Knowing the tendencies of the new leadership and agency of their “competitor” allowed BDI to best position this client for success in their particular market.
The Rescue Mission’s 20% increased investment in print acquisition saw a 53% YoY increase in new and reactivated donors – and with an extra bump in giving due to the pandemic, the Mission turned a profit in print acquisition.
The digital acquisition investment gave the ministry a 143% YoY increase in new donors acquired online and provided valuable learnings that will position them for confident and wise digital investments for years to come.
Most importantly, these outcomes heavily contributed to a 27% YoY donor file growth that dynamically changed the trajectory of the ministry’s impact.
Takeaway: Lean into best practices – and each other!
In good times or uncertain ones, surrounding yourself with trusted advisors, leaning into data-fortified decision making and trusting the Lord with the outcome is where your ministry should always be.
Be bold and sleep soundly!