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Elevate Your Donor Acquisition Plan with This Nonprofit Checklist

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Published October 27, 2023 Reading Time: 4 minutes

Donor acquisition is the critical first step to building an effective fundraising strategy. To help you identify prospective donors and cultivate your next wave of life-long supporters, we’ve created this step-by-step donor acquisition plan with best practices to expand your donor base and cultivate a wide net of loyal relationships.

If you prefer a PDF checklist, we’ve got you covered.

Step 1: Meet Your Donors Where They Are

Get your cause in the right places to catch the attention of qualified prospective donors. Thoughtful preparation helps you reach new supporters who share an interest in your goals and are ready to make an impact.

Activate Key Platforms to Reach New Donors

  • Gauge your staff’s capacity to expand your social media presence
    • Create social media business profiles
    • Schedule posts around the times and days your audience is most active
    • Stay ahead of new trends and algorithm shifts—explore these fundraising social media post examples for inspiration
    • Prioritize consistency on platforms you know drive results
    • Pair Classy’s data report findings with your organization’s engagement analytics
  • Identify social media platforms that align with your goals
    • Capitalize on Facebook’s traffic potential to boost cause awareness
    • Share campaigns on LinkedIn for higher conversion opportunity
    • Unlock traffic from a multiplatform approach by including popular channels like TikTok and Instagram
    • Did you know? According to Classy’s The Nonprofit Guide to Engaging Gen Z, young donors rated social media as the top way they discover new causes to donate to.
  • Develop an email newsletter to share your mission with new supporters
Pro Tip
Classy’s Why America Gives report found that the top reason donors reconsider donating is they don’t clearly understand the impact their gift would make. To ensure supporters complete their gifts, place your impact statement front and center on your donation page.

Welcome New Donors with a Mobile-Optimized Giving Experience

  • Streamline your donation forms and campaigns for mobile
  • Test your mobile donation experience to ensure a seamless, secure process using phones, tablets, and e-readers
  • Test the mobile journey to your donation website from various social media platforms and email
  • Invite people who aren’t familiar with your campaigns to test the experience
  • Note points of friction, load times, clunky formatting, or broken links that may impact your donor acquisition efforts
Pro Tip
To streamline your donation forms and campaigns for mobile, reduce the number of required form fields, increase font and donation button sizes, eliminate unnecessary text and competing calls to action, and compress image sizes to reduce loading times.

Step 2: Time Your Campaigns to Engage Motivated Donors

Once you identify which platforms ladder up to your donor acquisition goals, schedule your content around the hours donors are most likely to engage with it.

Acquire New Donors during Peak Giving Times

  • Reach donors between 9 and 11 a.m. when donation volume is at its highest
  • Use weekends to share touchpoints that keep donors connected
  • Plan a midyear analysis to optimize your fundraising strategy ahead of the peak year-end giving season
  • Review campaign traffic daily, weekly, and monthly to tailor promotions
  • Compare email open rates to send time to target engagement
Pro Tip
Take advantage of peak giving days and times, which Classy’s The State of Modern Philanthropy report identified as Tuesdays at 10 a.m. in the donor’s respective time zone.

Ramp Up Donor Cultivation Efforts at the End of the Year

  • Target outreach to re-engage donors ahead of the giving season
    • Send personalized thank you notes to lapsed donors
    • Make frequent and impactful updates to your social media platforms
    • Offer small gifts or swag to motivate new donors to engage with your nonprofit organization
  • Take advantage of Giving Tuesday to grow your donor community
    • Launch a campaign on Giving Tuesday when you’re 12x more likely to acquire donors compared to an average day of the year
    • Flip your campaign to an end-of-year call to action after Giving Tuesday
    • Check out our end-of-year fundraising plan checklist to organize your most impactful campaign yet

Step 3: Use Events to Build Donor Relationships

Once you’ve identified your donor personas, along with where your supporters are and when to connect with them, it’s time to strengthen each donor relationship with strategic donor stewardship tactics.

Maximize the Impact of Hybrid Fundraising Events

  • Lean on events to build lasting relationships with first-time and returning donors
    • Foster networking between your attendees and staff members
    • Host fun events in trendy or attractive venues to draw in new supporters
    • Gift attendees with free branded swag or perks
    • Send thank you notes and other follow-up information after the event, like a post-event survey, to show how much you value their input
    • Make sure new supporters know their next opportunity to give or get involved
    • Ensure your virtual component thoughtfully complements your in-person efforts—here are three hybrid event examples to get you started
Pro Tip
Classy’s The Fundraising Event Experience report found that 91% of fundraising event attendees will likely take further action with a nonprofit organization after a positive event experience. To take your fundraising events to the next level, explore Classy’s Hybrid Event Toolkit.

Mobilize Attendees to Fundraise on Your Behalf

  • Use peer-to-peer fundraising to unlock donation volume potential
    • Encourage people to build teams and recruit support to reach their goals
    • Ask that people fundraise as part of their registration cost for your event
    • Help attendees promote your cause by providing brand guidelines and a fundraiser toolkit
    • Provide fundraising tips for individuals hosting a campaign for the first time or returning supporters who need a refresher
    • Encourage social media sharing to help fundraisers engage new networks
    • Did you know? According to our The State of Modern Philanthropy report, individual fundraising pages on Classy bring in an average of 20 donors.

The State of Modern Philanthropy 2023: Creating Dynamic Journeys to Maximize Supporter Lifetime Value

As you learn to make a sizable impact with these tips, discover additional ways to round out your donor cultivation strategy. Make our interactive report, The State of Modern Philanthropy 2023, your next stop for an in-depth analysis of proven donor acquisition, conversion, and retention strategies amid the evolution of our industry.

Additionally, access our practical guides, tailored to build strong, lasting relationships with your supporters. We encourage you to dive into Classy’s Donor Conversion Checklist and Donor Retention Checklist for valuable insights on converting and building long-lasting relationships that continue fueling your impactful work.

Copy Editor: Ayanna Julien

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