Top Nonprofit Influencers Take on Donor Acquisition

When it comes to donor acquisition, traditional fundraising galas, networking, relationship building work like a charm. But as marketing methods evolve, acquiring new donors means staying on top of all the digital channels. These include SEO, email, social media, digital ads, while also keeping traditional offline efforts going strong. Donor acquisition today is a direct…

6 minutes read
Top Nonprofit Influencers Take on Donor Acquisition

When it comes to donor acquisition, traditional fundraising galas, networking, relationship building work like a charm. But as marketing methods evolve, acquiring new donors means staying on top of all the digital channels. These include SEO, email, social media, digital ads, while also keeping traditional offline efforts going strong.

Donor acquisition today is a direct reflection of the impact the nonprofit is delivering; as audiences become more result-driven and responsive to visible impact.

An effective donor acquisition strategy is the key to a nonprofit’s fundraising success. Whether you are a large or small NPO, it is important to understand your donor base, where your donations are coming from, and create a communication strategy that is actually effective. Before you go on to read what some of the best experts have to say on donor acquisition, we have a Donorbox podcast episode discussing the 5 essential strategies for the perfect donor acquiring approach –

Get Started With Donorbox

We asked some of the top nonprofit leaders for their advice to nonprofits and fundraisers on acquiring more donors. To no surprise, we uncovered insights and secret tips on making your donor acquisition strategy work!

Tamela Spicer

top nonprofit influencers

Tamela Spicer, the Program Manager at Dorothy A. Johnson Centre for Philanthropy, is a nonprofit strategist, certified coach, and trainer, Tamela wants to take part in shaping a better world by calling out white supremacy and racism in action. Connect with her on Linkedin.

I’m a big believer in permission-based, relational fundraising. List building works well for large organizations that rely primarily on direct mail, but for most small nonprofits, it’s not about a big list. We need to focus more on authentic connections that build social capital for our organization. This is the secret of movement building. Leverage every opportunity to get in front of people and tell great stories and make sure that each time you have a way for people to share their contact information. Don’t use raffles and giveaways to collect a bunch of names, allow people who hear your stories to respond. Let them choose to engage! This can be as simple as having connection cards readily available at every speaking engagement and each event. You can even equip your board, staff, and key stakeholders with connection cards and help them learn to tell their personalized stories of your organization.

By allowing prospective donors to take the first step in connecting with your organization, you build trust from the start and your donor base will be filled with people who made a choice to engage. Strongly engaged donors are more likely to leverage their circles of influence on your organization’s behalf, and thus the circle continues to grow, all with respectful permission.

Takeaway: Hack into building trust associated with your organization and focus on building social capital. Make the most out of every opportunity to attract support with powerful storytelling.

Jay Frost

top nonprofit influencers

The president of Frost on Fundraising, Jay Frost has spent the last three decades identifying and pursuing billions in fundraising opportunities for thousands of nonprofits across the globe. He was included in America’s top 10 fundraising experts list by Philanthropy Media in 2016. Jay is a popular speaker, trainer, and consultant for nonprofits. You can find out more about his work on his Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin handles, and on his website.

Donor acquisition is always more expensive than showing more love to the donors you already have. But if you must acquire, try the following:

  • Reach out to the lists of people you know but have never invited to give—everyone from museums visitor to gift shop buyers, newsletter subscribers to Facebook followers;
  • Re-acquire SYBUNTS, or those who gave Some Year But Unfortunately Not This—they loved your organization before and they could love it again;
  • Try intelligent targeting through DonorSearch’s Marketing Lists–you will be buying known donors who have given big money to causes similar to yours and paying a lot less;
  • Leverage your networks—do what the best GivingTuesday campaigns do and identify influencers among your social network followers, mobilizing them as brand ambassadors for specific projects;
  • Partner with social influencers—learn from successful efforts like St. Jude PLAY LIVE which mobilizes Twitch streamers and Arbor Day Foundation’s #TeamTrees campaign with Mr. Beast;
  • Use petitions—attract those who share your passion for the cause by launching a petition through Care2;
  • Promote a special offer—Provide something valuable, like a special webinar or e-book, in exchange for info on a landing page.

Takeaway: Leverage networks and tools to identify the right prospective donors and return to your SYBUNTS for reacquisition.

Sean Kosofsky

top nonprofit influencers

Sean identifies himself as the “Nonprofit Fixer” who helps transform nonprofits through leadership training, coaching on fundraising, and board improvement consultations. He started working at the age of 16 and for 25+ years, he’s served 4 nonprofits as their executive director, consultant, and activists of all stripes. Find more about him at his Linktree profile, website, Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook.

Acquiring donors is one of the trickiest things there is. But there are many strategies to employ. Let’s dive in.

The single most effective strategy to acquiring donors is to ask the people who already like your organization to generate names and invite them. For example, create one page on your site with a call-to-action (you may already have one) that involves harvesting an email address (petition, pledge, etc.). Ask every board member, every staff person, every volunteer, and every person highly engaged with your social media sites to invite 5-20 friends to take action. Once you have new people taking action, you can move them up the ladder toward giving. People are more likely to get involved if they are invited by someone they know.

Run Facebook Fundraisers. These are fun and simple ways to get lots of new donors. You may not get their email addresses but you will get the revenue. Getting the email addresses takes more energy but it is possible. Birthday and regular fundraisers on Facebook are exploding.

Takeaway: Identify a single strategy to engage and involve people who already like and support your cause.

Kiersten Hill

charity influencers

Kiersten Hill is the Director of Nonprofit Solutions at Firespring. With two decades of experience in nonprofit management and fundraising, Kiersten has helped Nebraska organizations raise $20 million+ in donations. She’s a Storybrand certified marketing guide and helps create a clear brand story to take organizations to the next level. Know more about her on Linkedin.

Early in my career as a nonprofit professional, one of my mentors gave me the best fundraising advice I’ve ever received. She said, “there’s never a good time to raise money!” And she is right. There’s always a reason why it’s going to be hard – push forward anyway! Make the best possible case for your organization. Do great work that makes others want to be a part of what you do and donors will find you. A few more tips:

  • Use a multi-channel approach to reach your current and prospective audience.
  • Share your message via mail, email, social media, digital advertising, etc.
  • Don’t forget snail mail! There’s still tremendous benefit in reaching donors via the mail.
  • Consider purchasing a new mailing list that fits your target demographic.
  • Use social media to target new potential donors. Build an audience based on your best current donors.
  • Make sure your solicitations contain at least one message for the head and one for the heart.
  • Keep the donor at the center of your message, invite them to be the hero of your story!
  • Remember to make donor thank-yous a critical piece of retaining all your new donors!

Takeaway: Apply a multichannel outreach to engage current and potential donors, hack into email outreach to engage and garner support.

Amy Neuman

charity influencers

The Founder and Executive Director of Resourceful Nonprofit, Amy Neuman helps nonprofits and social enterprises free up human time through technology like AI, Blockchain, etc. She’s the author of the book “Simple Acts to Change the World: 500 Ways to Make a Difference” and a keynote speaker on social good. For more on Amy, visit her Linkedin and Twitter profiles, and her website.

Tell a compelling, engaging, and shareable story, and let donors know how great they will feel when they help – through examples from other donors, or client successes. Also when possible, see if you can get people onsite for volunteer projects, including corporate groups. The visceral feeling of helping can lead to a passion to help more and donate.


donor acquisition

The key to making your donor acquisition strategy depends largely on where your donors are. Also, on how you position your work and organization. While one channel might work for some nonprofit and not so much for another, it is essential to identify what clicks with your organization and with your donors; then apply the approach smartly – whether via emails, Facebook fundraisers, events, or ads.

Storytelling will always remain the cornerstone of donor acquisition. Whether your story is being shared by your own volunteers and members, your existing donors, or ads, tailoring your story to appeal to your highest prospective donor-cohort is the first, most important step in a successful donor acquisition strategy.

Find out effective techniques of donor acquisition on our blog post and find some proper tips on acquiring and stewarding your biggest donors over here.

While you are revisiting your donor acquisition plan – take a peek into our Peer-to-Peer fundraising feature – a promising way to cultivate your loyal donor base and powerfully engage your donors by turning them into your fundraisers. Peer-to-peer fundraising is the single best way to tap into the untouched donor channels and discover new donors.

Finally, don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly newsletter with the latest tips and resources to fuel your nonprofit. Head over to our nonprofit blog to subscribe.

Avatar photo

Raviraj heads the sales and marketing team at Donorbox. His growth-hacking abilities have helped Donorbox boost fundraising efforts for thousands of nonprofit organizations.

  • facebook
  • twitter
  • instagram
  • linkedin
  • tumblr

Join the fundraising movement!

Subscribe to our e-newsletter to receive the latest blogs, news, and more in your inbox.

Take your donor experience to the next level!
Join the 50,000+ nonprofits already raising funds online.
Join a 30min Demo to see how Donorbox can help you reach your fundraising goals!
Join a 30min Live Demo to see how Donorbox can help you reach your fundraising goals!