Skip to content

Increase church Giving? - DonorWerx


How to Map the Donor Experience to Increase Contributions

increase contributions

How to Map the Donor Experience to Increase Contributions

Church and nonprofit organizations have faced significant struggles raising money over the last few years. Nonprofits suffered in 2018 in part because new tax laws don’t give households as many incentives to donate. Religious institutions face even more challenges as fewer people attend church and identify with any particular religion. This is a harsh reality, but improving the donor experience may help.

Unfortunately, religious donations fell by $3 billion between 2017 and 2018. When donations lag, organizations can’t meet their goals. In some cases, that means ended important community programs. Falling donations could even force organizations to close locations that people rely on.

Learning how to map the donor experience gives you more influence over how much money comes into your organization. You can make donor mapping as simple or complex as you want. As long as you choose a framework that matches your group’s needs, you can gain more control over fundraising.

The Simplest Approach to Donor Mapping

approach to donor mapping

If you have a small staff that can’t dedicate much time to donor mapping, then it might make sense for you to take the simplest approach possible.

That likely means that you make an engagement plan where each donation triggers a short series of events.

For example, when someone in your congregation donates online, you can use their information to:

  • Automatically sign them up for newsletter emails that include donation requests.
  • Send a message thanking the donor and explaining how you plan to use their money.
  • Invite them to attend a Bible study class or attend an upcoming special event.
  • Tell them about more donation opportunities.

People have a lot of reasons that they don’t contribute. Some can’t afford to because they need to dedicate as much money as possible to paying off debt. Some people don’t donate, though, because they worry that a nonprofit or church will misuse their money. Keeping your audience informed and engaging with them as often as possible will remove some of the common reasons that stop people from donating.

Use Donor Werx to track which messages motivate your audience to give. When you know which emails, newsletters, and messages bring in more money, you can target your audience better. That’s the simplest approach that you can take to mapping and improving the donor experience.

Map a Decision Tree to Target and Understand Your Donors

Donors usually go through several stages before they send money to your organization. You can track many of these decisions to make strategic fundraising campaigns that meet people where they are.

It’s important to know that this approach takes more time and effort than the simplified option. When done well, though, it can grow your donations significantly.

Mapping a decision tree basically creates a path of options that donors can choose. Before getting into the details, let’s consider an example of how you might map an individual’s donor experience. Then, you can generalize the approach and appeal to a wider audience.

An Example of Mapping Donor Experiences

On May 3, your office sent a thank you email to Donor X for her $50 donation. You included a call to action (CTA) in the thank you email that asks her to sign up for monthly giving. Unfortunately, 2 months go by and you still haven’t heard anything from Donor X. At this point, you send a thank you letter through the mail. The letter includes a similar CTA.

This time, Donor X responds by visiting your website and signing up for ongoing, monthly donations.

Several things could have happened in this scenario. Perhaps Donor X gave you an incorrect email address. Maybe she just doesn’t check that email address very often. Maybe a spam filter blocked the message from reaching Donor X.

It doesn’t matter what happened. What matters is that you learned something important about this donor. Sending a letter in the mail solicited more donations than sending an email.

In this case, you have a straightforward decision tree that even the smallest office could map. It can get much more complicated, though. Use Donor Werx to make complex donor journeys clearer.

The Many Stages of a Major Donor

In the example above, Donor X already had a relationship with your nonprofit. Most of your donor pool, however, doesn’t know much about your organization. Even those that have heard of you may not feel compelled to give you money.

Typically, you can put major donors into six categories:

Discovery: The donor may know about your organization, but feels little or no reason to contribute.

Early cultivation: You and the donor have had some contact, but no one has made any promises.

Mid-cultivation: You and the donor have developed a promising relationship, and the person has positive feelings about helping you succeed.

Ready to solicit: You and the donor have such a solid relationship that asking for money wouldn’t cause any damage.

Proposal pending: You have made a gift proposal to the donor, but the donation has not been verified.

Stewardship: The donor has given your organization a major gift, and you’re ready to talk about working together to fund future projects.

Common Stages of the Casual Donor Experience

Casual donors can keep your organization going, but they don’t give you enough money to hire a new fundraiser or buy a new building. Bless them, though, because they pay your salary… and fund day-to-day operations.

When you try to attract a major donor, you use a lot of personal contact. That’s not usually the case with donors that give you smaller amounts of money. You can take a more hands-off approach as long as you understand their donor journey and use software that targets demographics well.

Here are some common categories of casual donors:

Awareness: The donor knows about your organization either through an event, your social media presence, or just because you’re popular.

Consideration: The donor likes what you do, and thinks about giving you money. But there are other great nonprofits to consider before making a decision.

Research: The donor learns more about your organization and work by talking to friends, reading reviews, and following you online.

Intent: The donor has decided to give you some money but hasn’t acted on the decision yet.

First gift: You got your first gift from the donor!

Repeat donor: The donor appreciates your organization’s work so much that they’ve decided to continue giving.

Lapsed donor: The donor doesn’t send you money anymore. Any number of things could have happened, such as financial changes or evolving priorities.

It’s Time to “Draw” That Map!

draw that map

Once you know where a donor’s stage, you can start mapping the person’s journey and nudging them toward additional contributions. Ideally, you can push them along the donor journey to become repeat donors or major donors.

Each donor’s map will look a little different from the others. You will find plenty of commonalities, though, that you can use to streamline the process of turning an interested person into a repeat donor.

Stage One: Awareness

Start by identifying all of the ways that you try to build awareness among potential donors. Like most groups, you probably have:

  • A few social media pages.
  • A blog.
  • Events that attract members of your community.
  • A print and/or email newsletter.

If you have enough money, you might raise awareness through advertising or funding events.

Stage Two: Engagement

When someone shows interest in your organization, offer to give them more information. This lets you push the interested person into the “research” phase. Plus, you get to control the narrative and highlight your nonprofit or church’s achievements.

How do you provide more information? That depends on the person’s preferences. Remember the above example where the donor responded to a letter instead of email. You will likely find people that respond to a variety of outreach options, including text messages, Facebook invites, newsletters, and emails.

Try everything that you can until the person responds. Now, you have the next point on your map!

Your next mission is to encourage donations.

Stage Three: Donation

The type of media that a person prefers is usually the option that will convince them to donate. Include CTAs in every engagement.

Remember that people have busy lives, and don’t lose hope when someone doesn’t respond. Get as many smartphone numbers as you can. That way, you can send push notifications that remind people that you still need their dollars.

Push notifications get looked at 50% more often than emails, so it’s worth the effort.

Stage Four: Repeat Donations

Your donor hasn’t reached the end of the journey when they contribute. Turn them into repeat donors that provide ongoing support for your organization.

Make sure you try digital giving. Despite some unfounded myths, a lot of donors and organizations prefer digital giving. Repeat donations become easy when people can rely on technology to do the work for them.

Get the most out of your donor maps by using Donor Werx software to develop fundraising campaigns, track messages that bring in the most money, and keep donors updated on how their money helps you help others. This is the best way to improve the donor experience!

Related Articles

Group 75

The Power of Testimony: Sharing Your Faith Journey to Reinforce Your Beliefs


The Interplay of Faith and Daily Habits: Small Acts that Strengthen Belief


Cultivating a Resilient Faith: Strategies for Overcoming Spiritual Dry Spells