Donor Journeys – Common mistakes and how to fix them

Do you have a love-hate relationship
with your Donor Journey?

If you do, you’re not alone.

The love aspect is simple. It comes from the potential of giving every supporter a lifetime of meaningful and flawless experiences that increase their connection with you and your mission.

The hate comes from the time and energy required to see only minor improvements in engagement and retention, or worse, not having the systems in place to know if you’ve made an impact at all.

If you’re guilty of some of these, don’t be hard on yourself. I’ve made some of these mistakes myself, and I’m a better fundraiser for it.

Articles Inner 03

Too Complicated.

This can happen when you haven’t created a donor journey at all and want to go from having nothing in place to a 3-year, multi-channel, automated process.

It’s zero to hero, and it rarely works.

I’ve seen fundraising teams work on a project for months, carefully map every single touchpoint and then struggle to implement anything at all.

As fundraisers, we’re often time-poor and under-resourced. Try to create something that’s realistic and achievable. You can always add complexity down the track.

Timing is everything.

The opportunity to inspire and retain donors decreases as time passes. It makes sense to create some incredible experiences in the first hours, days and weeks of your new relationship with a supporter.

There are two really important points I should make in terms of timing:

  • The most important time in your relationship with a supporter is NOW.
  • Preparing a lengthy donor journey in advance can be disingenuous.

Imagine if you told donors that their interactions for the next three years were already created. You would be admitting that you’re not listening or changing the way you communicate based on their stories, their feedback and their actions.

No Personalisation.

You just can’t treat everyone the same.

Let’s say you are a medical research charity. You can’t treat a medical professional the same way you would a new supporter who knows little about the condition you’re raising funds for.

Go out of your way to prove that you know your supporters. Often it’s just a simple variable or a carefully worded paragraph in the right place.

No goals set.

We are a data-driven sector, but we often let that slide when it comes to Donor Journeys. If you don’t have goals, you probably won’t have measures in place to monitor your outcomes.

It’s crazy to work on something not knowing if you’re making a difference. Isn’t that why we do what we do? To make a difference?

Setting goals will ensure you reach for results that justify the time and energy you’ve invested.

If you don’t have the resources, join a benchmarking project and let someone else do the hard work for you.

Articles Inner 06

Too reliant on Digital Channels.

Email giant MailChimp released a report a while back that showed charity emails have an open rate of 24.11% on average.

Of the emails sent from not for profit organisations, only 2.57% of people click a link to a landing page, social media page etc.

The bottom line is that your messaging won’t have an impact if it’s consumed at rates like this. You may need to communicate through a mix of channels to get cut through.

Consistent messaging across a number of channels including but not limited to email, social media, mail, phone, SMS, radio and DRTV will generate better results.

While some channels aren’t very expensive, the old rules apply. If it doesn’t cost anything, it’s probably not worth anything. The best opportunities WILL cost more.

One way communication.

Initially, you won’t know a lot about your supporters when you acquire them.

But you’ll only find out about them if you talk less and listen more. My mother often said it’s why we’re given two ears but only one mouth.

Ask supporters to express their values and their feelings. Don’t talk AT your donors when you could be having a real conversation with them.

Feedback is so important, but you’ll need a good CRM to store what you’ve learned and use it to personalise your messaging in the future.

Boring Content.

It’s a simple one but so common. Get rid of the boring message from your CEO who hates being filmed. It can be dull, and every charity tends to do it.

Instead, tell your story via a beneficiary whose life has been changed forever.

Donor care content is a bit like a first date. Try not to talk about yourself too much and focus on the outcomes.

If you can keep these things in mind, you’ll be ahead of the rest when you start creating or implementing your donor journey.

Always try and put your donor hat on, and ask what your donors need to see and hear to feel loved, valued and appreciated. The rewards will come!