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3 Ways to Enhance Donor Journeys With Nonprofit Marketing


If your nonprofit has ever received a donation, you have some kind of donor journey in place. A donor journey is simply the process a supporter follows to learn about your cause, decide whether they want to get involved, and ultimately donate.

Whether your nonprofit has worked to carefully carve out this journey or simply does its best to meet its funding goals, there are likely ways you can enhance it through digital marketing.

In this guide, we’ll explore some of the ways you can better align your marketing efforts with the various stages of the donor journey. This way, you can promote your campaigns and secure much-needed funding all while creating positive, engaging supporter experiences. Let’s begin!

Map out the donor journey.

A donor journey map visually outlines the path donors take from initially learning about your organization to becoming loyal supporters of your cause. To help you plot your donor journey, CharityEngine’s guide to donor journey maps lays out these stages of giving:

  • Awareness, or how people learn about your nonprofit. Brainstorm ways to increase awareness, tap into new audiences, and more effectively capture new supporters’ attention with your content. 
  • Consideration, which occurs when donors gather information about your cause to determine whether they will donate. Assess whether you have the right resources on hand for them to learn about your nonprofit’s work and whether those resources are easy to find and access.
  • Conversion, the stage when the supporter goes from prospect to donor. Evaluate your website’s calls to action, donate buttons, and donate form or landing page. Giving should be as easy and convenient as possible for your supporters.
  • Retention, or the phase when your nonprofit must nurture the relationship with new donors to keep them engaged in your cause. Consider your current stewardship strategy—can you add more personalization, thank donors more often, and offer additional, non-monetary ways for them to support you?
  • Advocacy, which occurs when donors become ambassadors for your cause by spreading the word to other prospective supporters. You can encourage advocacy by creating shareable content, publicly thanking and recognizing donors, and even providing branded merchandise.

Your current donor journey may not follow or address all of these stages, and that’s okay. Take this time to identify and remedy any gaps. For example, perhaps your nonprofit is able to convert first-time donors successfully but struggles to secure that coveted second donation, meaning you should re-evaluate your donor retention strategy. 

Additionally, specify how your marketing efforts work to guide donors through this journey. How successful have those efforts been in the past? How can you make your content more compelling to streamline and optimize the conversion process? As you brainstorm and start developing more strategies to enhance the donor experience and journey, keep your initial map at the top of your mind.

Optimize your communication strategy.

Once you have an idea of how supporters interact with and navigate their relationship with your organization, it’s time to start creating communications that highlight and strengthen that path. 

To boost donations, Allegiance Group + Pursuant recommends meeting prospective donors where they are in their journey, understanding that there are multiple paths they can take, and choosing the communication platforms that they are likely to engage with. Building on this foundation, you can further optimize your marketing efforts by:

  • Focusing on personalization. Segment donors based on shared characteristics, then target each segment with personalized messages. In this context, you might create segments based on where a supporter is in their donor journey. For instance, a supporter making their first donation might trigger a welcome email series that educates them about your organization, while a long-term supporter might get personalized engagement recommendations to boost retention.
  • Using and connecting multiple channels. Establishing multiple touchpoints with your donors keeps your organization at the top of their minds through each stage of their journey. For example, when fundraising online, you should engage donors on social media, link to your website, and encourage them to subscribe to your email list. Navigating between platforms should feel seamless to the donor as any bumps in the road could discourage them from taking the next step.
  • Always encouraging deeper engagement. Any time a donor interacts with your nonprofit, your goal should be to deepen your relationship with them. This could mean asking them to explore a blog post that might nudge them closer to donating. Or, if they are already regular donors, you might encourage them to join your monthly giving program or explore your volunteer opportunities.

It’s also a good idea to regularly ask your supporters for feedback from donors through surveys. Ask them about whether your messages to them feel relevant and personal, what they think about your donation form, and if there is anything you could be doing to get them more excited about your cause. 

This can help you cultivate deeper relationships with donors by showing that you’re interested in giving them a positive, fulfilling experience, not just taking their donation.

Boost donor satisfaction and retention.

Offer supporters plenty of varied opportunities to engage with your cause so they can find the option they like most. This can help you boost retention, reduce the chance of fundraising fatigue, and make supporters feel fulfilled. Make sure to highlight non-financial ways to give back, such as:

  • Volunteering regularly or for special occasions and events.
  • Participating in advocacy campaigns such as signing petitions, spreading awareness of your cause among friends and family, and writing letters to their representatives.
  • Attending fundraising events like galas, auctions, or 5K races.
  • Donating in-kind gifts like supplies or pro bono services (e.g., an accountant taking on your financial responsibilities for free).
  • Joining a partnership or collaboration with your organization—look to your entrepreneurial supporters for this!

Another way to boost donor satisfaction is to help them maximize their impact. The most common way to do this is by sharing about social good programs their employers might offer, like matching gifts or volunteer grants. Then, supporters can request additional support from their employer (at no extra cost to them).

Your marketing campaigns have so many moving parts, from choosing the right communication channels to drafting compelling copy to effectively targeting each segment of your audience. As you balance these tasks with other efforts like events or direct mail fundraising campaigns, the donor journey can easily fall by the wayside. But by taking a step back to examine your existing journey, strategize, and revitalize your efforts, your nonprofit can use its marketing to create an inspiring, positive journey for each supporter.