Ask any nonprofit fundraiser if he or she wants to increase the results of their fundraising efforts and you’ll get a resounding “yes”! The next question, of course, is how? The answer is in understanding your goal and audience, and then matching your pitch to the prospect. In other words, you create donor journeys

If you’ve never done so, developing donor journeys (also known as donor journey mapping) can feel like quite an undertaking. You might find yourself wondering where to start. How do I segment my list? What are my donor personas?  How do I execute?  Where am I going to find the time and resources? Where can I get more coffee?

It doesn’t have to be something that brings on a cold sweat. Donor journey mapping can be as complex or as simple as you like—as with all new things, it’s best to start simple and grow from there. Below, I’ll break down the basics and share my four top donor personas that will help get you started. 

Donor Journey Mapping Basic Steps

Start with a goal

I’m going to assume that the question that started you down this path is, “How do I get current donors to increase their gifts?”  After all, what nonprofit doesn’t want that? So, from there, you can create a hard target, such as you want to increase existing donor gifts by x%. The reason we start this process with a goal is that you’ll have no way to measure the efficacy of your efforts without one. 

Review your donor list

You may already have your donor list segmented by current donors and lapsed donors, which is great. Now, break it down even further. Ask yourself: 

  1. Among your lapsed donors, who has given in the last year? How about in the last two or even three years? 
  2. Who on your list is doing nothing at all except showing up to your annual event? 
  3. From your pool of current donors, whose donations have gone up in amount or frequency in the last year? Similarly, whose have gone down?  

Based on your answers to these questions, we can break your list into segments and create donor personas. From there, you’ll tell your organization’s story through a series of touch points (or communications) that resonates with each group.

4 Donor Personas Any Nonprofit Can Start With

The following are four donor personas that can serve as a jumping-off point for any organization. However, these are just examples—group or segment your list in a way that makes sense for your nonprofit. 

Persona #1—Community Stakeholders

These are the people who are actively and increasingly contributing to your organization. They’re regularly giving, going to events, and even help you to raise money through peer-to-peer fundraisers like your walk-a-thon. These are also the folks who share your online fundraisers on their platforms and engage your social media posts. With this group, the question then becomes how to increase their engagement. A possible answer here would be to personalize your communication with them. Make them feel part of the family, much like influencers, and develop an interactive dialogue specifically with this group—they love you and that is why they engage so heavily! Get to know them better and develop a rapport that is transparent and goes both ways. Ask them for their advice, make them a part of your extended team, and always feed them random acts of kindness as they appreciate these types of connections. An example here would be sending them swag to keep them engaged!

Persona #2—Separated Stakeholders 

Donors who fall into this group have given in the past but have stopped giving in the current year (lapsed donors). They have a history of giving, but you need to reengage them. It might be reconnecting them to the mission through service or engagement of some form. So, part of your donor journey should include touchpoints where you can reconnect with them and show the value of engaging with your nonprofit. You might invite them to view an exhibit for free or bring them backstage to meet performers, the curator, or your executive director at your next event. You may also welcome them for an exclusive tour of your facilities, during which time you’ll give them a random act of kindness.

Persona #3—Community Acquaintance

These are folks who are participating in your endeavor (perhaps as volunteers) but have not yet committed to any giving at all. This is a high-opportunity group as they can be turned into first-time donors by developing a dialogue that delivers a deeper connection and inspires them to donate. For this persona, we must increase our value and engage them further in the hopes that they’ll give. 

Persona #4—Fickle Friends 

These are the people who come to your annual event but barely scratch the surface with their engagement. This group has no real investment in your organization and is only driven to engage based on the cause, project, or event that may interest them. Fickle Friends can be converted to Community Acquaintances or inspired to give if you connect them to the mission and allow them to see its importance and value.

Once you’ve segmented your list and have assigned donor personas to each group, it’s time to think about how to approach each. For your donor journey to be effective, you must match the pitch and medium with the prospect. 

I hope the above information will help make donor journey mapping a little less daunting! Using these personas and your donor list, you’ll be able to better match the pitch with the prospect, a move that will amplify the efficacy of your fundraising efforts. 

If you’d like to learn more about donor journey mapping, please feel welcome to read the recap or watch my Donor Journey Mapping webinar hosted by Nonprofit Tech for Good.

About the Author

Robert Friend is a seasoned executive in the nonprofit community and a solutions specialist with Eventgroove.

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