I’ve been on a retention rant for some time now. Still am, in fact.
But no one stays on your file forever. (Or, as they say in the publishing business, even the most loyal subscriber is bound to expire.)
So how do you find replacements?
The easy solution would be to buy a list, drop a mailing and voila … new supporters abound.
Unfortunately, it’s seldom that simple … particularly for a smaller organization that can't afford to invest heavily today, but not expect payback for years.
There are a number of activities most organizations can pursue to help build their base of supporters. Much of it depends on encouraging a capture mentality throughout the organization.
- Your web site is your window to the world. Do you offer visitors convincing reasons to raise their hand and identify themselves? It’s not enough just to offer your free newsletter (captivating though that may seem to you!) Stay on top of current issues? Find out more about an area of interest. Receive updates on events or activities?
- Will current supporters–especially advocates–help facilitate an introduction to their friends? Not give you names to send an appeal to, but be a part of outreach activities. Meet the actors, before or after a performance. A fireside chat with the CEO. A friend-raising reception in their home.
- Can you tie onto timely events to draw attention to your organization? A bill in the legislature. A civic milestone. A recently released study or report. In a perfect world, your ED is the person reporters call for comment. In the real world, you may need to help make the connection through tweets, posts on facebook, an article on your web site, etc.
- Make it easy. If you’re presenting, don’t just ask people to get in touch; pass out cards people can fill out and return to you (and give them a reason to do so!) Always make sure your contact information is readily available.
- Target groups who could become allies. A local Rotary or Lions club. A young professionals group. A nearby school or neighborhood association. You’ll need to get to know the group well enough to understand their needs (what they’re looking for) and then find ways your organization can help them fill those needs.
But don’t think of acquisition as a one-time activity. Instead, consider it an ongoing effort that permeates the organization. A mindset that includes both the openness to organic growth … and the eager commitment to encourage that growth.
Then look for every opportunity available to help make that happen!