The Beginning of the Donor Journey: Awareness and Exploration

A good first impression is irreplaceable. Whether it's a potential in-law, a potential employer, or a potential donor, the early stages of building a relationship are critical. Often the early stages of a relationship can make or break the future of a relationship.

It's not so different in relationship fundraising. So today we're going to take a look at the first two stages of the donor journey: awareness and exploration.

Stage 1: Awareness. “Most relationships are an exchange.”

While multiple steps are required to move a donor from awareness of your cause to making
a gift, the first step is making an impression. Impressions should invite prospects to exchange
their contact information for something they value. The donor must be moved from anonymity to identity. You are inviting the donor to a more personal level of engagement with your organization.

What will inspire a donor in this stage?

The donor's desire to connect with you must exceed their desire for privacy.

Stage 2: Exploration. “Relationship building is not the same as information sharing.”

  • Invest in immersive experiences. The more immersive the experience, the more likely the impression can result in a donor relationship. Bring the prospective donor to the work - observing firsthand or volunteering. If donors are unwilling or unable to go to the beneficiary, bring the beneficiary needs to them. Pictures are good. Video is better.
  • Offer Donors Choice. Satisfaction is the #1 driver of donor loyalty. Achieve donor satisfaction by giving donors control over what they receive from you. Don’t ask in the first interaction what communication they want. Prove the value of your communications
    over a few months so they can make an informed decision.
  • Conduct Donor Surveys Early. Identify what your donors care about most. Talk to them about that, not the other 10 programs you’re doing.
  • Move from Intrusion to Invitation. Once you’ve asked your donors their preferences and are honoring them everything you send is literally something they asked for. One organization boosted their response rate on their year-end appeal by 50% this way.

What will inspire a donor in this stage?

Fundraisers have to make donors feel something in order to give. Engineer welcome cycles of the most arousing communications the organization has ever been able to generate, before assigning a donor to the ‘regular’ communication cycle. Don’t be afraid to reuse old solicitations that worked well. Intense arousal is the only thing that matters in early relationships.

Download the Donor Journey Infographic to learn how to use relationship fundraising to create long-lasting relationships with donors.

 

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