What is donor acquisition?

What is donor acquisition?

Donor acquisition is the method, workflow, or process by which nonprofits bring in new or potential donors to their organization. It’s often a process that involves a dual partnership between marketing and networking.

Why donor acquisition is important?

Nonprofits rely on the donations they receive to keep their organization fully funded and functioning. Most organizations have sustaining donors that provide funding throughout the year. However, studies suggest that donors, on average, give for around 18 – 24 months before canceling or discontinuing their donation.

This means that for nonprofits to stay viable, they must always seek new donors to contribute. That’s where donor acquisition comes into play. A strong donor acquisition strategy allows nonprofits to add new donors and maintain their existing funding structures as donors leave.

What's the difference between donor acquisition and donor retention?

Donor retention is how nonprofits or other organizations keep donors engaged and giving while donor acquisition is how they acquire new donors.

Both of these strategies are needed for a nonprofit to be successful. Organizations with great donor retention strategies might need less investment in donor acquisition. Conversely, organizations with great donor acquisition strategies might spend less time retaining donors.

Generally speaking, donor retention involves engaging, updating, and reporting on the successes of your organization. When trying to retain a donor, organizations should focus on highlighting the current affect an individual’s donation has on the nonprofit. For example, nonprofits might send out quarterly or annual reports highlighting how donations were used and major accomplishments of the year. 

When acquiring donors, nonprofits generally focus on the mission and story of the organization. Rather than citing specific donation amounts, they might highlight why their organization relies on donations, who they’re able to help, or how their organization works overall.

Tools to help donor acquisition

Platforms like RoundUp App and Ribbon make it easier for nonprofits to acquire new donors. Both platforms give donors unique features for acquiring and converting donors like a marketing library, campaigns, invite features, and donation embed forms.

Tools making donor acquisition easier.

The number one way to improve donor acquisition is to make it as easy as possible for donors to give to your organization. Both RoundUp App and Ribbon provide customizable donation forms that you can embed on your website. With these forms, donors can immediately make donations to your organization, start a new RoundUp donation, or signup for monthly giving.

We want to help you to stretch your donor acquisition campaigns further, so we provide social-media templates your organization can use to explain how RoundUp donations work or invite others to join. Additionally, we provide custom invite features allowing you to invite current donors or lists of potential donors directly to your account.

Strategies for donor acquisition

Social media strategies for donor acquisition​

Social media is a great source of new donors. Social media platforms are open and widely used, so they are one of your best sources to find new donors! Here are a few social media strategies you can try to increase your donor acquisition:

Running paid ads

If you have a marketing budget, you can pay to run ads about your nonprofit on social media sites. This type of paid promotion can help you find donors who currently don’t follow your account.

Participating in conversations​

Social media platforms work best when your organization actively engages in conversations happening throughout the country. Use trending topics or hashtags to weigh in on popular topics or conversations. You can also ask your audience questions or engage with experts in your field!

Promotions for popular giving days or holidays​


A great way to build content for social media is to craft posts celebrating giving days throughout the year or holidays.

Share the story of your organization.


​Use social media to explain how your organization helps the community or supports your cause. Share pictures from events, people helped, or explain how donations helped you make a difference in the world. This is the perfect spot to brag about your successes!

Email marketing strategies for donor acquisition 

Email marketing is a key strategy nonprofits use to acquire new donors. To build a strong email marketing strategy, you’ll need a few things: an email marketing platform, a way for potential donors to signup, and engaging content.

If you haven’t already picked one, we recommend finding an email marketing platform that works for you. These types of programs make it easier for organizations to track donors, create eye-catching email campaigns, and schedule email messages. We’ve written before about the email marketing platforms we like too.

Once you’ve chosen an email marketing platform, the next step is signing up potential donors. You’ll want to include a signup form on your website. A good place to start is in your website’s footer, or in a custom section. You can also get signups in person by asking for email addresses at your volunteer nights or other events.

After you’ve cultivated a list, you’ll want to start crafting email campaigns. Keep in mind that a good rule of thumb for email marketing is the 80/20 rule. 

This rule states that 80% of your email campaigns should be informational and engaging while 20% of them should be directly promotional. This helps ensure that the donors you do acquire don’t immediately opt-out of your marketing. 

Consider writing content that explains what your organization does, wraps up monthly or quarterly success stories, and generally inspires your audience to join you. It’s okay to directly ask for donations too, you just don’t want to make every single email you send to be a call for donations!

Networking strategies for donor acquisition

One crucial way organizations raise money and acquire new donations is through networking events. These events might be hosted by your organization or you might be attending someone else’s event. The important thing to do is to find your community and become an active part of it.

Your organization might want to put on their own networking event for your community. This could be a physical fundraising drive, a community gathering, an in-person raffle, or simply a night for others connected to your organization to get together and share stories.

Another great way to raise money through networking is by attending events related to your cause. You might join a conference, a professional meet-up, or sponsor another event happening in your area.

By increasing your networking events you’ll be able to find new donors from the communities you participate in.

Putting it all together

One crucial way organizations raise money and acquire new donations is through networking events. These events might be hosted by your organization or you might be attending someone else’s event. The important thing to do is to find your community and become an active part of it.

Your organization might want to put on their own networking event for your community. This could be a physical fundraising drive, a community gathering, an in-person raffle, or simply a night for others connected to your organization to get together and share stories.

Another great way to raise money through networking is by attending events related to your cause. You might join a conference, a professional meet-up, or sponsor another event happening in your area.

By increasing your networking events you’ll be able to find new donors from the communities you participate in.

Thank you for reading

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