The #1 Way to Acquire More Donors Online | npENGAGE

Donor Acquisition: The #1 Way to Acquire More Donors Online

By on May 17, 2013


Online Donor Acquisition Tip

Guest post by Madeline Turner – Madeline has a passion for writing and believes the nonprofit sector keeps humanity accountable by constantly reminding us that we’re all in this together. When she’s not writing about nonprofits you can find her competing in public speaking contests and training to be a Spice Girl (wannabe)

I would be lying if I said it was simple; asking people for money rarely is. I still have to prep myself, make sure my ask is clear, and provide at least 3 proof points that all of my other options have been exhausted before asking my parents for money – AND THEY’RE MY PARENTS.  (Hey, I’m 24…I’m still working on this whole financial independence thing).

The point is people don’t just give hand-outs. Everyone needs to know why they’re giving and where their money is going. And donors are no different.

When it comes to donor acquisition, the concept is the same – donors want to know WHY they should donate to your cause and HOW their contribution will be used. We work hard for our money, so if we’re going to give it away – no matter the cause – we want to know who is benefitting. If you want more donors, your online donor acquisition strategy should include a little selling.

Here’s how.

Show the Value

Whether it’s a $10 donation or a $10,000 donation, donors need to know the impact their gift will have before they’ve decided to give. Online fundraising is no different. With all of the different missions and causes out there to support, new donor acquisition has become increasingly more competitive so it’s not enough to rely solely on a compelling mission or recognizable brand to continue to bring in new donors. You have to communicate the value of each and every donation.


Pregnancy Resources of Greater Portland’s online fundraising donation form clearly defines the value associated with various giving levels and by doing so has redefined the monetary contribution. Supporters are not just asked to donate, they’re asked to provide the materials needed for a woman to go through their Heart ministry, fund an ultrasound for an expectant mother, or cover the entire cost for a woman to go through their program.

This approach puts the focus on the value of the donation, rather than the donation itself.

Build the Vision

If your goal this year is to provide 500 more meals to the hungry, paint a picture of what that would look like and mean for those you serve, and then show how each dollar donated gets you closer to that goal. If you can make each and every supporter feel like an integral part of your “mission accomplished”, the more likely they will be to give and encourage their friends and families to give as well.


The use of a giving thermometer has typically been used for event based fundraising initiatives, but its ability to motivate giving and drive online fundraising results shouldn’t be quarantined to the peer to peer space.

When you give your supporters a vision of the end-goal and show how their contribution helps to bring that goal closer to reality, you offer instant gratification- and let’s be honest- we’re a society that runs on it. Think about how you could use these kinds of online fundraising tools to inspire more giving.

Prove the Impact

Creating a groundswell of support for your mission is unlikely unless supporters are able to see that their backing produces results. This is a time when people want to KNOW that change is actually happening, and even more so that they’re a part of that change. If your organization is focused on new donor acquisition, consider the ways you can communicate the influence of previous and current donors.

Charity: Water does an incredible job of proving the impact of their supporter base by providing several different ways to see their mission in action. They use Google Maps to show the global impact of their efforts and they also provide a Completion Report when a project is brought to fruition, so that donors and potential supporters can see the direct influence of their contributions.


And if you haven’t thought about how you can incorporate video into your online fundraising strategy, take a look at how Charity: Water uses video to prove impact. I’ve never seen more genuine smiles- and they’re smiling because of water, clean water, made possible because of each and every supporter’s donation.

Who doesn’t want to be a part of that? Support is contagious; you just have to create the buzz.

Closing Thought…

I’ve always heard “If you want something, ask for it”, but I’m not convinced this is the best advice. You can’t just ask; you have to prove that what you’re asking for is worthy of consideration. I say if you want something, start building. Show the value. Build a vision. Prove the impact. And then ask for it.

If you’re interested in what tools are available to take your donor acquisition strategy to the next level, take a look at these online donor acquisition tools.



Frank Barry, formerly worked at Blackbaud helping nonprofits use the Internet for digital communication, social media, and fundraising. He’s worked with a diverse group of organizations including LIVESTRONG, United Methodist Church, American Heart Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, ChildFund Int’l, InTouch Ministries, Heifer Int’l, University of Notre Dame and University of Richmond. Along with writing for industry publications like Mashable and Social Media Today, Frank facilitates discussions, presents solo sessions and organizes panels for industry conferences such as NTC, SXSW, BBCon and numerous others. When he’s out and about he enjoys talking to interesting people about how they are changing the world – check out his interviews. Say Hi on Twitter – @franswaa or Google+

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