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When it comes to acquisition, first impressions are everything. A strong first impression can mean the difference between being welcomed in or having the door slammed in your face.

Of course, I’m speaking figuratively here. The “door” could be anything from an email to a mail piece to a phone call to an event. The point being a poor first impression significantly decreases your chances of being able to make a second impression.

So what can you do to make that first impression one that compels potential donors to keep that door open?  

In order to open more doors, a smart technique is to come bearing gifts—providing something of value before you ask for anything.

This accomplishes two things:

  1. It prevents people from having a negative reaction to an abrupt ask. Basically thinking to themselves, I don’t even know you and you’re already asking me for money?
  2. It lays the groundwork for a relationship versus a transaction

While the first point is important, that last point is key. A lot of new donor churn results from putting donations before relationships.

For example, text-to-give is an easy, virtually frictionless way for new donors to give to a cause. But it often leaves organizations without crucial donor contact information needed to build the relationship.

So rather than jump right in on the ask the first time an individual interacts with your brand, identify something that adds value to their lives and give it to them in exchange for their contact information.

You may be wondering, just what should that “something of value” be?

The best way to figure that out is to look inward. There’s great value in what your organization knows and you can use that information to benefit potential donors.

Ask yourself:

  • What have you learned in the service of your beneficiaries that might be valuable to your donors?
  • How might you educate them or apply your unique skills to assist them wherever they are?
  • What information do you have that will encourage, help or support them?

For example, a nonprofit addressing the issue of world hunger could show potential donors how hunger is a problem in their community, educate them about food production, or help them teach their children about the problem of hunger.

These are all things that benefit the potential donor while also personally connecting them to your mission. If you can accomplish that, you have a much better chance of not only opening doors, but also being invited in.

Learn more tips and techniques for converting impressions into new donors. Download our free content paper “The Art & Science of Fundraising” today.