Eight essential steps to creating a donor journey that increases fundraising income

If you find that the donor journey falls at the first or second hurdle, here are the eight essential steps of managing a donor journey guaranteed to increase income.

Whether you’re walking through the fundraising door for the first time, or you’ve been flying the flag for your chosen cause for a while, you’ll know the significance of the donor journey.

And if you need reminding, the donor journey is one of the most pivotal elements to achieving fundraising outcomes across the board.

Just like any other relationship, from before you meet your support to cultivating an ongoing relationship, a strategic donor journey can lead someone who hasn’t yet donated to become a lifelong advocate for your cause.

It’s easy to overcomplicate a donor journey when planning complex onboarding sequences. While adding donors to a host of different mailing is usually designed to capture the interest of all supporters, it can easily overwhelm and confuse them to the point they tune out completely.

Keep the journey to or two communication lists and allow the relationships to build organically.

2) Don’t stretch resources

If the correct systems are in place, taking someone from a prospect to reaching their giving potential shouldn’t drain resources. Manual admin is labour intensive and can negatively impact income-driven programs. The more automated you can make a journey, the better.

3) Personalise

Any part of a donor journey where the supporter feels like they’re hearing from a stranger is unlikely to be a success. Always personalise communication and keep thorough notes on donor records including giving history, birthdays, anniversaries, special holidays and any other information you can refer to in one-on-one communication.

4) Make it measurable

Not all aspects of the donor journey will always have the desired impact. Measure which elements work and which don’t. For example, look at list unsubscribes and identify trends where people unsubscribe. The donor journey must be fluid. Measuring key figures at specific points will help you tailor the journey to maximise impact.

5) Use a variety of channels

Email is cost-effective, easy to automate and provides accurate data tracking making it the perfect correspondence in the donor journey. But it’s not the only channel to communicate with supporters.

Consider a layered approach to the donor journey including social media, written correspondence and phone calls where appropriate. Relying on email alone will risk the journey as people change email addresses and find it very easy to use the ‘unsubscribe’ button.

6) Be specific

Unless yours is a charity with only a handful of supporters and donors, you’re never going to reach everyone. Trying to do so may harm those relationships that are ready to nurture. Instead of focussing on every area, be specific about how you syphon donors into a communication journey to avoid diluting key messages.

7) Be engaging

Content should be concise, specific and engaging. If not, you risk losing a reader at the first hurdle.

All content should stir emotion while empowering the donor to see how their contribution can help build the cause. Create urgency for support, focus on impact and outcomes,and don’t forget to say thank you.

8) Review

Regular and ongoing data analysis is an essential element to make sure donors stay engaged and on their journey with you. Don’t set up an onboarding or donor journey and leave it to tick along without review. What may have worked once might not always be effective.

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