Getting the Right Donors


Acquisition is the ongoing effort to grow your customer/donor base and to fortify and replenish that base over time. Historically, Summit Marketing’s nonprofit, commercial and governmental clients have relied on direct marketing to help them attract, retain and increase engagement of customers and donors. Today, new technologies in digital and social media, data collection and analysis add power to our acquisition programs. Our proprietary analytics allow us to model, assess and improve the effectiveness of audience targeting strategies, lists, and creative tactics.

Smart acquisition runs deeper than sheer numbers of new donors or customers. Summit Marketing continually audits and evaluates data to help you identify and capture the right customer/donor mix for the strongest initial gift revenue as well as the highest lifetime value and return on investment.

Even nonprofits must maximize profitability.

The Salvation Army’s mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. We know you operate literally thousands of assistance programs in the United States, and these programs require significant funding.

Summit’s mission is to help The Salvation Army accomplish its own mission by finding the donors who can fund its many programs. We are aligned with and devoted to your mission. Yet, our strategies are somewhat different. You are the few, reaching out to the many who truly need help. We reach out to many, to find the few who can truly help you.

Doing the Most Good also requires making the most of your time, resources and opportunities – as The Salvation Army assesses the needs of a community before you build your programs, to provide the greatest benefit, care and relief. In a similar way, Summit Marketing analyzes the opportunities in a market or an audience to select the right donor mix, the right message and the right moments to deliver the greatest return on your investment and optimize the donations that support your mission.

he wrong message, channel or list will result in the wrong donor mix. It is entirely possible, as some Corps and Commands can attest, to drive huge numbers of new donors but still produce financially strained outcomes. In fact, it happens often.

Cast your net on the right side of the boat.

Acquisition is like fishing. You need to know what you’re trying to catch, how to read the conditions of the weather and the water, which lures to use and where to cast your nets. Just as important, you need to know which fish to keep – and which ones to release.

Our analysis over the years shows that a donor’s first gift to an organization is a significant predictor of lifetime value, retention and the degree of likelihood a donor will upgrade their gift to The Salvation Army.

We wish it to be clearly understood; Summit Marketing does not fault or disparage the donors of small gifts. They cared enough to share and made it a point to do so. But, analysis of this donor group over many years and many commands demonstrates that they do not contribute at high enough levels or for long enough periods to offset the cost of bringing them onto the donor file. The problem lies entirely with misguided marketing strategies that actively pursue a greater number of smaller fish – wasting The Salvation Army’s time and resources, starving your mission, and ultimately forcing reductions in valuable programs and services

It’s time to ask yourself; what’s in your net?

Lifetime Value. 

Our data shows that when measuring gross revenue over a three-year period, it takes 154 new donor gifts of < $10 to equal the gross income value of 12 new donor gifts of $50 – or one new donor gift of $250 or more.

Is your average first-gift size smaller than you would hope? Do you often find it difficult to get a second gift from a new donor? Summit Marketing can help.