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Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 10.05.44 AM.png.005Donor lifecycle management can help you plan your fundraising strategy and measure your fundraising effectiveness.  Effectively manage donor expectations at each step of the giving process is the best way to inspire loyalty and instill trust in your donors. But to do so requires mapping the donor experience and connecting the appropriate fundraising strategy and evaluation to each step.

Develop Your Fundraising Strategy Around the 4 Stages of the Donor Lifecycle

Here are the four basic stages of the donor lifecycle and how you optimize your fundraising around each one.

Stage 1 – Identification and Research

In this stage, many nonprofits are probably asking the questions like, “Whom should we target and what will we ask for? What do prospective donors need?”

During this stage, it’s essential for your organization to target the right prospects, set the right expectations, and measure the quality of the impressions and perceptions prospects have. Name acquisition and conversion, whether they’re used to build an email list or qualify a major donor portfolio, may well be the most intensive stages of the process in terms of time and investment.

Stage 2 – Cultivation

This is the stage where your nonprofit starts to shift towards building relationships, engaging the prospect, and preparing to make the ask.

Time is something that should be seriously considered this stage in the donor lifecycle is to. How long after a first impression does it take to get a donor to the first action? You must measure that so you’ll be able to start honing your strategies in order to shorten the time frame or improve the donor relationship while you wait for them to make a gift.

Stage 3 ­– Solicitation

Many organizations are surprised to learn that their major donors started giving with an “entry level gift” tend to have a dramatically higher lifetime value than even those donors whose first gift was a major gift. This means their journey through the donor lifecycle has been meaningful to the relationship, and it maximized their investment in the organization.

Effective solicitation means meeting donors where they are — with an ask.

Stage 4 – Stewardship

Somewhere in the development cycle, stewardship fades into cultivation once again, and the pursuit of the next gift begins. Just as solicitation must meet donors where they are, so too must stewardship. When it comes to developing your stewardship strategy, create a specific pathway for new donors, current donors, and loyal donors, and then measure donor retention, average gift, revenue per donor, and frequency within each subset.

Are you planning your fundraising strategy so you can anticipate and measure progress toward each stage in the donor lifecycle? Are you measuring your fundraising effectiveness by the donor lifecycle?