July 28, 2022
Estimated Read Time: 5 min.

How The Donor’s Journey Can Guide Your Nonprofit Marketing Strategy

The buyer’s journey in a business context refers to the steps a customer takes from becoming aware of a brand until their final purchase. Companies spend time understanding their ideal customers’ purchase journeys to determine the touchpoints and actions needed to close a sale repeatably. When your organization clearly understands what makes consumers select your nonprofit and you can repeat those steps naturally you will increase your results. This concept is known as the donor’s journey in the nonprofit world.

According to the 2018 Global Trends in Giving Report, donors across all generations do prefer to donate online so ensuring there is a clear donation path for them to follow is key. Let’s break down the donor’s journey with nonprofits and offer a better understanding of what marketing services your organization can leverage during each stage.  


The Donor’s Journey

Ensuring your nonprofit board and marketing team understand your unique donor’s journey is crucial to maximizing your organizational growth. Recognizing which stage donors are in can ensure you spend time and resources in appropriate places. To develop consistent donor pool growth, your team must craft targeted marketing strategies that help guide the donor down the funnel. 


Stage 1: Awareness

Awareness is the donor’s first exposure to your nonprofit organization. They currently have no background knowledge of your organization. When developing marketing avenues for this stage, consider how other donors first engaged with your organization. 

Services to activate:

  • Paid Ads: Facebook Ads & Google Ads can be a great way to put your organization on the map if you currently do not have a large base and limited reputation amongst nonprofits in your sector. 
  • Public Relations: Press releases and pitching can be fantastic ways to bring the spotlight to your organization. Everyone loves a feel-good story, and nonprofits have an abundance! 
  • Social Media: Social media allows your organization to use storytelling to give potential donors an idea of what you do and stand for. Share those stories with the world! 


Stage 2: Consideration

Your donors are deliberating between your charity and other nonprofits. Currently, the donor’s engagement is minimal with your nonprofit organization, but this is a chance to provide them with valuable content to help make their decision. 

Services to activate:

  • Paid Ads: Retargeting Facebook Ads & Google Ads can be a great way to make a second touchpoint with potential donors. For example, if your first awareness ad was a PSA video, retarget an ad to all the users who watched more than 30 seconds of the video or clicked on the link. 
  • Website: Your website should be a place for information on your organization as well as a place for donors to clearly understand your mission and values. Maximize your website by creating fielded forms where potential donors can provide their email in exchange for impact data or other helpful resources. 
  • Social Media: In today’s digital world, social media is going to be an avenue your potential donors take to research your organization. When brainstorming content for social media, developing content that satisfies each stage is essential. 


Stage 3: Intent

At this point, your potential donor is showing clear interest in your charity by engaging in a low-barrier ask. They might have engaged with your nonprofit on social media, perused your website, and signed up for additional information.

Services to activate:

  • Email Marketing: Developing content marketing sequences through email is necessary when pushing donors to support your cause. Once there is clear interest, you consistently must build that interest to create action. Donors need guidance on how to get involved; they need clear CTAs that help them identify their choices within supporting your organization. Introduce them to your programs, events, and more through email marketing.


Last Stages of the Donor’s Journey

Your donor has officially donated to your cause; what next? We have grouped the last stages as they act in unison to create a cycle of repeating donors. 


Stage 4: First Gift 

At this point, the donor commits to their first donation. This is excellent news! All the marketing you have done up to this point successfully does what you want it to do. This is a great time to explore your gifts menu and ensure you provide your donors with options on how to support your organization.


Stage 5: Re-Engage 

Once this individual is officially a donor, your organization should show appreciation for the donation and showcase the impact that contribution made. Targeted ads can be used here to send specific messaging out to previous donors using language that indicates you are talking to them specifically. When thinking about reengaging donors, involve your nonprofit board to consider ways outside of digital that get donors to engage like volunteering opportunities or event involvement.


Stage 6: Stewardship 

Your organization engages donors and ensures they feel a part of the community by creating things like a flagship newsletter with feel-good stories and updates on projects. Highlighting loyal donors on social media is another excellent way to create pride and stewardship in your donor pool. Nonprofit organizations should consider planning some stewardship/loyalty efforts with an expert who can often give gift giving and fundraising insight to strengthen your reach with donors.


Stage 7: Second Gift

Your organization should feel extremely accomplished when getting to this point in the journey with your donors. You have created a loyal, consistent, and engaged donor. Now your nonprofit can ask for a second gift comfortably and begin to repeat the steps in this cycle to develop regular donors. Again, meeting with a fundraising and gifts expert can be a great way to create some strategies on how to continue to delight your donors. 


Implementing Marketing For Each Donor’s Journey Stage


At Strat Labs, we understand how important it is to make your marketing work for your donors. We suggest that if you have most of your donors stuck in one of these stages, determine what strategies and resources can get them to the next step and test them till you find what works. It is important to note that understanding your target audience and buyer personas will also maximize this strategy.

Does your nonprofit need to rework some of your efforts to stimulate potential donors better? Check out what services we offer! We would love to connect with you and let you know how we can help you and your organization grow. 


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