What’s your 2017 donor journey?

HAPPY NEW YEAR, READERS!

I am back to the grind after a lovely Christmas with family and friends, and a lot of much-needed rest. I took a break from Twitter, email, and this blog, and it felt fantastic! I hope you took some time to yourself, too.

All that rest meant I went back to the office yesterday feeling rejuvenated. I was ready to go! And do you know what the first thing I did was?

Mapped out a 2017 donor journey for one of the organizations I work with.

You’ve heard me say this before: all too often, the needs of our organizations – administrative, financial, bureaucratic, etc. – trump the needs of our donors. Our boss thinks something is important so we spend a lot of time on it, and our donors come second. We have a revenue goal, and we’re so desperate to reach it (maybe our job depends on it), that we treat donors like philanthropic robots and throw ask after ask at them without any thought of how it might feel, or how it fits into their donor journey.

It happens. We all do it. We have real pressures and budgets and deadlines – and bosses – and the donor falls down the list of priorities.

Donor journey mapping can help us get a handle on it. 

And remember – don’t plan your donor journey at the start of your fiscal year. Start it at January 1st. (If that’s the start of your fiscal year, you’re a lucky duck!)

January is the start of a new year for everybody, so it’s also the start of a new – or continued – donor journey.

So with all this in mind, yesterday morning I sat down with a big sheet of 11 x 17 paper and wrote 20+ segments down the left side of the page – current mid-level donors, lapsing mid-level donors, mid-level prospects, online only donors, monthly donors, 3+ year consecutive donors, current donors, lapsed donors, inactive donors… and so on and so forth.

Then I wrote the months of the year across the top.

Then I thought of each group and what made sense for them throughout the calendar year – for example, most current mid-level donors would’ve given in December, so maybe more of them should get stewardship in January vs. a renewal ask.

3+ year consecutive donors are really loyal, so even though they’re usually treated the same way other current donors are, I’d like to test a monthly conversion ask in early Fall.

It’d be great to convert online only donors to give through the mail, but not in the year-end time period when there’s a flurry of online activity; I’ll exclude them from the year-end mailing we do in December.

And on and on I go.

It’s an awesome exercise that puts donors first, and ensures their needs – and the best fundraising strategies – are set up and ready to go before they can be trumped by something else.

Try it! Especially when your energy is fresh, and your donors are feeling the same way.

Good luck, and Happy New Year!

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Written by Maeve Strathy

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Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in fundraising for ten years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
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How to leave with #donorlove

Before I say anything else: Happy Birthday to my girlfriend Kate! 

Now — onto the post!

How to leave with #donorlove

I’ll say it again: you’ve probably noticed me writing and tweeting and talking about #DonorLove a lot lately.

As I described in this post, my definition of donor love is this: a lens us fundraisers need to look through to ensure our donors are at the heart of what we do.

In that same post, I also mentioned that donor love is a lot about stewardship, but that’s not all it is. We can show donor love at every stage of the donor journey.

We can be loving in our identification of donors… does this person just have a lot of wealth, or are there clues that they could be inspired by our charity’s work?

We can be loving in our cultivation of donors… are we barging into their home with an agenda, or are we asking pointed questions and listening to find out what inspires their philanthropy?

We can be loving in our solicitation of donors… are we telling them what we want, or aligning their passions with our needs, based on the conversations we’ve had about what they want to impact?

And, of course, we can be loving in our stewardship.

You know where else in the donor journey we can show donor love? When it ends.

I’m not talking about when the donor stops giving (God forbid!). I’m talking about when you – the fundraiser – leaves the organization. Again – God forbid! – but it happens. In fact, as you know, it happened to me just recently. I left my fabulous post at Wilfrid Laurier University for a new gig, and in preparation for transitioning out of that role, I thought about my donors.

I imagined them receiving a bounceback email from Laurier when they are checking in about their annual gift, saying “this email address no longer exists”.

I don’t know about you, but I was horrified at the thought of this! I spent so much time building relationships with my donors, strengthening their connection to the university. It could all be for nothing if this happened.

It’s not about me. It’s not about me being a great fundraiser and the only reason my donors give to the organization, because that’s not true, and it’s not what it’s about. But I’m a representative of the cause, and if either of us – me or the cause – disappoint the donor, we have to start from square one. I didn’t want that to be the legacy I left behind.

So I sat down with my donor list and put a star next to the name of every donor who I’d made a meaningful connection with, who had unfinished business with the university regarding donations (i.e. was thinking over an area of support, had an upcoming pledge to fulfill, etc.)… that sort of thing. These were the people I needed to inform of my departure.

But it wasn’t an announcement; it was a touchpoint. It was a chance to thank the donor, show them how much they mean to the organization, and ensure a smooth hand-off to my successor.

Again, it wasn’t about me; it was about the donor, and it was about #donorlove.

So there you have it! You can even leave with love.

Do you want to know what my #DonorLove Goodbye Note looked like?

Sign up for my email list by the end of September and I’ll send you the #DonorLove Goodbye Note template!

(Don’t worry – if you’re already signed up for the list, you’ll get it, too!)

Thanks for reading!

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Written by Maeve Strathy


Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in fundraising for over eight years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email