Advocates as Donors Part 1: Building Your Prospect List
Posted by Guest Blogger at Sep 24, 2014 07:01 AM CDT

This article was written by Molly Brooksbank, Senior Director of Digital Engagement at Sierra Club. Sierra Club is an IMAB Nonprofit Member.

If you run any part of a direct response or nonprofit digital program (’re reading this blog), you probably know that you can get a lot of bang for your buck through online supporter acquisition. But let’s set aside online whitemail acquisition for a moment -- those individuals whose first known connection with your organization is through a donation online -- and focus on prospects.

What prospect acquisition strategies can you use to build the biggest list without sacrificing quality? Which sources drive the most donations? How can you also measure the value of advocacy? And what does conversion of online advocates to donors look like?

I’ll address the first question today, with more to come in part 2. 

Unpaid Tactics

Unpaid list growth tactics are the place to start, not only financially, but several offer the benefit of an ongoing stream of prospects with low maintenance.

Paid Channels

If you’re looking for immediate financial ROI, you want to drive people directly to donations through most paid channels, but paid sources can be a great source for reaching prospects and advocates, too.


Once you’ve identified a source is fit for your organization and goals, there’s still always room to improve. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and a solid content strategy are fundamentals to supporting organic traffic and advertising. Web optimization testing tools like Optimizely are relatively straightforward to get started with -- though you’ll want to spend thoughtful time on which tests have the greatest potential. 

More to come in part 2. 

What other strategies have you used to drive large volume donor prospect acquisition? Share your thoughts in the Comments section!

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