convert-shutterstock_284496380Hours and hours of effort, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars, go toward acquiring new donors for your house mailing files. It’s obvious that these precious new donors can strengthen your file and offer continued revenue growth into the future—just what your organization needs. But without some sort of conversion strategy, many of the donors acquired are never heard from again. In fact, the average retention rate for newly acquired donors is only 29%.

What can you do to be better than average?

This is where a little bit of deeper digging into the data can pay huge dividends. First of all, data tracking on your file will drive improvements in KPIs, and an analysis of your data will provide you with strategic direction. Knowing what needs to be done is just as necessary as knowing how to implement it.

So, how then can you take advantage of this information and maximize your returns from acquisitions?

Focus on the KPIs related to two things: aggression in acquisition and capability in retention. It’s no secret that your file will grow both by acquiring more donors, and by keeping a higher percentage of those acquired.

CTA can indicate whether or not you can afford to be spending more in acquisition. If your CTA is too high, your budget would probably see improvements from less acquisition spending. The opposite holds true as well. If your CTA is low or you’re actually net positive, then you can and probably should spend more on it, both improving your file health and, in turn, your long-term outlook.

A more refined tool though, is annualized CTA. It’s similar to CTA, but includes the net revenue from those acquisitions. More information is generally better, and this is no exception. It paints a more realistic picture of the effects that your acquisition campaign has on your budget. Don’t you want to know what you’re really spending?


Data from file audit of Innovairre armed services sector client

The graph above shows a real-world example of an NPO that is missing out on the opportunity to further grow their file and invest in their future. The only way to catch this and make better budgeting decisions is to compare your CTA to your annualized CTA.

Which leads to another important factor, and one that’s often overlooked: same-year conversion rate. The best indicator for the likelihood that a newly acquired donor is going to be loyal to the cause is the length of time it takes them to give a second gift. If a second gift occurs within 3 months of acquisition, the long-term value (LTV) of the donor is seen to be significantly higher. This trend holds true for longer timespans as well; the longer the donor takes to give again, the less likely it is to happen at all. The takeaway here is that you need to be getting to your new donors as quickly as possible to improve the likelihood of retention.

Focusing on same-year conversion has another benefit, too: raising it will actually improve your annualized CTA. By simply getting your acquisitions to donate again quickly, you’re decreasing the true cost of acquiring them. If you’re converting more new acquisitions more quickly to multis, then you’re getting more money in the short term. This relationship is seen in the graph below.


Data from file audit of Innovairre armed services sector client

You’ll also see a long-term benefit because the LTV of the quickly retained is higher than the LTV of those who wait to send a second donation.

All of this leads back to the original point. In order to take advantage of all of this information, you have to create a strategy for quickly turning new acquisitions into consistent donors. Strategy is the key word here. The longer you wait to create this strategy and contact them, the longer they wait for the opportunity to donate again.

Grant Novins is a Marketing Data Analyst at Innovairre Communications, which supports more than 500 nonprofit organizations around the world. For strategic consultation and a free file audit, contact us at Answers@ Subscribe to our newsletter here, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.