The Donor Journey Explained: A Roadmap to Grow Generosity at Scale


Patrick Kirby 0:03
Hey, everybody, welcome nonprofit boot camp back with another guest expert training I’m super excited about today. One of the things as we kind of ramp up for the end of the year, one of the things that we really want to get aligned before the brand new year starts is where we taken our donors, but it is hanging out there just being around, they just kind of, we’re letting them sort of choose their own path, no, nay, we want to bring them hold their hands, we want to walk them through why they love you, what they want to do what we want them to do kind of have a little bit of hand holding here. And we’re not trying to, you know, sort of childlike, you know, sort of grab their hands. But it’s a very confusing and dark space, when we are giving them a whole lot of information when we’re giving them a whole lot of experience and impact and stories, etc. It’s a very confusing place. So we want to give a little placemaking little path making little map making for you. We’re going to call it the donor journey, we’ve got one of our favorite humans of all time, like I mean this sincerely, like legitimately one of my favorite humans of all time, Brian funk, who now markets, the director, local runs the marketing of virtuous with us here today as our special guest, Brian, welcome to our nonprofit, we’ll get guest expert training. Welcome, my friend.

Unknown Speaker 1:31
Good to be here. Oh, always, I always love and desire, all the opportunities to collaborate with Patrick and Sammy and love all the work that you all are doing with nonprofit bootcamp. So really grateful to be here today really grateful to spend an hour talking through what does it mean to create a holistic, meaningful experience for our donors. We’re gonna dive into all of the why and the how, and what it means for you and your organization today, so super psyched to dive in.

Patrick Kirby 2:06
I love it. Alright, so as usual, everybody if you got a question, drop them in the chat. If you’ve got comments, drop them in the chat. We’ll address them now, not only throughout the presentation, but we’ll also sort of maintain a conversation there as well as Brian gives us his perspective in zone of genius, which is the donor journey, Brian, I’m gonna let the floor to you my friend, I’m gonna sit back. This is the best part about this. By the way, it’s, it’s a bonus within a bonus. I get to enjoy this just as much as I think everybody else is too. So I get to sit back and learn as I do every single time that I talk with Brian, the floor is yours, my friend. Thank you again for being here. Appreciate you appreciate what you’re about to lay out for

Unknown Speaker 2:50
us, my friend. Beautiful. Appreciate it. Yeah, make sure that chat pane is set to everyone so we can see your comments. And let’s dive in. So today we’re going to be talking about the donor journey explained how do we create a roadmap to grow generosity at scale? Again, my name is Brian funk. I’m the VP of Marketing here at virtuous. And to be honest, I’m a I’m just a fundraiser and marketers clothing to be really candid. I’ve spent my whole career in the sector as a fundraiser leading global peer to peer fundraising campaigns, managing annual funds and recurring donor programs. And, honestly, I got into the work as a fundraiser for the mission. And what I learned about myself along the way, is that my favorite part about fundraising to be frank is a the relationships that I got to build with donors. But over time, what I started to realize that my role as a fundraiser was, was that I was being given a sacred opportunity to help people realize their gifts and talents to help people realize the impact that they want to make in the world and give them a pathway in order to bring that to fruition. And so that’s a bit of what we’re going to talk about today and why a donor journey matters in the first place. But before we get there, I’d love to just share a little bit about verjus. We were founded to help nonprofits build better relationships with donors, inspire their givers, and grow global generosity. And we believe that generosity has the power to change the world, the communities in which you’re operating. But we also believe that generosity has the power to change the heart of the giver. And it’s for a very, very, very specific reason. And it starts with, why does the donor journey even matter in the first place? And a part of my background was, you know, I was a 17 year old kid once upon a time in high school. I saw a documentary from the nonprime Have Invisible Children. And I saw a documentary about a boy named Boney. And Boney, was living in Uganda. And he was a former child soldier. And he was also, he had escaped from the revenue, and was actually fleeing his village at night and sleeping in city centers in order to be under the protection of the United Nations. And I watched this documentary all about Boney story. And I just came to life. And I got engaged with a nonprofit, I didn’t know how to fundraise. I ran my first fundraiser at 17. For the first time, my friends, and I raised $20,000, in a single day. And then that fundraising journey led me to then go to Capitol Hill and advocate for a bill that was being voted on in Congress. And then that led me to become a recurring donor. And then that led me to buy T shirts and advocate at my school and on my campus when I went to college, right. And so this, the organization shared with me a story, where I saw my common humanity in a conflict that was happening halfway around the world. And it brought me on this path, and I got to exercise my skills and my passions and my talents. And I got to see that I was making real world impact. So much so that one day after years of volunteering, and raising money, I accepted an internship with the organization out of college, and we traveled the country in these vans. And we would do about 100 speaking engagements in three months, we’d speak to about 30,000 people, and we’d raised a millions of dollars in awareness. And I was paired with a Ugandan advocate, who happened to be bony. So I found myself years after diving into my passion, that I was actually paired with the person whose story inspired me to get involved in philanthropy in the first place. And to add another layer to the story. We actually toured my hometown, and we spoke at my high school in the room, in the auditorium where I first heard Boney story, years before, and I shared the stage with Boni. And we spoke to a group of about 2500 students on how they can make a difference in the world, while my teacher sat in the front row and wept, because she couldn’t believe how full circle this global story of taking action had unfolded. And so I love to share this because philanthropy is really taught me about wonder and abundance, and being able to experience things in life that you would never experience. But I want to give credit to Invisible Children, because they brought me on a thoughtful, intentional journey that quite literally changed my life, I would not be here today, if I had not seen a documentary, and been asked to help in the ways that I was asked with my time with my talent, and with my money. And so this experience completely changed my life. And as we all know, giving is deeply, deeply personal, right. It’s personal to you. It’s why you work at the nonprofit that you work at. I also see that there’s some things going on in the chat. Nice, nice, nice.

Unknown Speaker 8:33
It’s personal, like you chose to do this work because of something personal to you, whether it’s directly in your life, or the experience of a loved one or a friend, right, like something happened in your life that called you to serve your mission. And it’s the same for our donors. And today’s donors expect a deep connection to the causes that they care about. Because giving is personal. And so in this we’re facing a major challenge, and nonprofits are in a are in a period of time, especially as we navigated through the pandemic. We’re, you know, we’re on the other side of it now. But I think the pandemic shined a light on why nonprofits need to adapt and change. And we have this traditional approach within fundraising where we see statistics like lagging donor retention. You know, today’s donor is distracted and drifting away from our mission. And we’re seeing old legacy fundraising strategies that are actually driving poor results. And so here a virtuous we would we call this a generosity crisis. And we are trying to help nonprofits to become more responsive to become more personal. And what we see across all the nonprofits that we partner with, is we see on average a 10% increase in average gift, we see a 12% increase in donor retention, we actually see a 20% decrease in staff time And we’re actually going to talk in detail today about how a donor journey actually saves your team time to do the work that you love to do, as well as to counteract the burnout that we’re facing in our sector, because we’re working hard, we’re tired, our hearts are in our work. And our time is precious. And we also see a 10x return on investment in the tools and technologies that help us to be responsive. And so as we think about the world that we’re fundraising in, it’s changed. And we’ve gone from Mass Communications really like a spray and pray approach, right, we go back to like, I think back to, you know, like, you used to turn on the TV, and you could watch live call centers of like 50 people hitting the phones, dialing for dollars and call this number one 800 make your donation today, like mass appeal. But now we’re living in a world where everything is personalized. You know, you sit on the couch at night and you watch Netflix, you hop in your car and you turn on Spotify. A Lex a, I can’t say her name because she will literally personally interact with me on this webinar.

Unknown Speaker 11:15
She knows when I’m out of Nespresso coffee pods, and literally reminded me yesterday that I need to place another order. This is personalization at scale in our world today, you know, the tools and technologies are looking at our behavior. And giving us the next step right, you watch a certain show on Netflix, and you you watch it really quickly. Netflix has the data to know Oh, Brian really likes his true crime documentary. We’re gonna feed him another one. Right? So like Netflix is bringing me on a journey. So knowing how personal giving is, why would we treat our donors in an impersonal way? Why would the journey that we take them on the robots are winning Patrick and right, but we can use the robots to our advantage. So we want to create personalized experiences. And we want to react to our donors in a way in which it’s behavior driven. We want the interactions to be two way. And so you think about this the legacy model, right? And we think about our donor acquisition and cultivation model that we’re all very, very familiar with. And that donor might come through your door through a gala or an event, they might come through because of a mail piece that you sent out. Maybe there’s something happening digitally on social media where a donor learns about your mission. Maybe it was from a friend or you know, maybe it was through something noteworthy in the news. But there’s all these doors that donors walk through and our supporters walk through. And the impersonal legacy model of fundraising is based on a nonprofits timing. So you know, it’s end of August right now, folks, and I know that everybody’s thinking about their fall fundraising campaigns, their end of year appeals, and giving Tuesday, right, we are nonprofit summer is sadly coming to a close. We’ve all taken our vacations, and we are ready to ramp up our fundraising efforts. Why would we take all of these personalized entry points, and drop all of those people into a mass November appeal, and then drop all those people in mass to our year end campaign, and then drop them all in mass into our January newsletter. These are the one to many spray and pray one way based communications that actually create disconnection from our intention, because we want to bring donors closer to our mission. So I want to start with two important questions. The first is, why do donors continue to give? And the second is how do we cultivate this at scale? And when we get to the second question, that’s really when we’re going to start diving into what does it mean to create a donor journey? How do we actually start where we are today, and map out some of this personalization that I’m talking about? And we’re gonna give a really, really specific examples. So just as a reminder, you know, what’s changed, we’ve had a shift from the mass communications to personalized experiences and two way behavior. And when we see personalization increase, we see giving increase, we see retention increase, we see nonprofit teams working more effectively. And so the insight here is that donors will continue to give when they feel connected with have confidence in your organization, which they have a deep, deep passion for. So how do we lean in deeper to their heart? How do we lean in deeper to their passion? How do we create an experience that feels as personal to them as their connection with your cause that led them to give in the first place? I used to do a lot of work in healthcare, philanthropy, and I work twith Moffitt Cancer Center out of Tampa, Tampa, Tampa Bay, Florida. And, you know Moffitt Cancer Center, they do an annual miles for Moffitt fundraiser. It’s a 5k race fundraiser. And the myriad of stories that come out of that organization is unbelievably powerful, whether it’s people that are on their own recovery and healing journey from cancer, maybe they’ve lost a loved one or a friend to cancer, maybe they’re there in camaraderie, and in spirit to champion, a loved one who’s on a healing journey themselves. Right. These are deeply, deeply personal connections that these individuals have to Moffitt Cancer Center. And we want to make sure that we are leaning into those passions and that donors feel seen and heard through their stories and their experiences.

Unknown Speaker 15:54
So why donors continue to give check, passion, folks want to have confidence in the organizations that they’re supporting, and they want to feel the connection? But ultimately, how do we cultivate this at scale. So let’s just go to one of the first principles of fundraising. And you all do this today, in some way, shape, or form. You have your supporters, they’re your donors, your stakeholders, your volunteers, your board of directors, your staff, and you have a story that you’re trying to tell. And that’s your mission. That’s your impact. That’s your purpose. It’s your outcomes, the stories of beneficiaries. But what connects them are our strategies and our systems. And that’s everything from our marketing and fundraising campaigns, the processes that we build internally, the habits that we create within our team, the metrics that we listen to, and the platforms and tools that we use to elevate a donor or supporter being able to make an impact. And so we also know about the traditional fundraising growth model. And, you know, we bring folks through acquisition and retention, cultivate cultivation. This slide is, you know, we’re all human, the slides a little messed up, we have retention on there twice by accident, that last quadrant should be sorry, advocacy, right, we acquire a donor, we retain a donor, we continue to cultivate them into becoming advocates on behalf of our cause. This is the model that we all operate in today. But I want to introduce a new way to think about the fundraising growth model. And here at virtuous we call this responsive fundraising, and responsive fundraising is what’s going to lay the foundation for how to begin thinking about creating a donor journey. So at its simplest and highest level forum, we first and foremost want to listen better to our donors. And there’s a few ways that we can do this. Obviously, we have one to one conversations with our donors all the time. So what are we learning from our donors when we connect with them one on one. The second is we have access to tools and data that give us information whether our donors know it or not, from the emails they opened, they open the calls to action that they click through the time in spaces where donor spend on your website. All of this is trackable. And this gives us information to say wow, I just saw a donor spend time on, you know, this specific program page, that might give you some intense signals that show you Oh, this donor is curious, or they’re interested or they’re investigating. And when we pull in that data and that information, it then gives us information to say, Ah, I now have something where I can connect more personally. So that brings us to the second page phase of the responsive fundraising framework connection. So knowing that giving is deeply personal, our engagement should be too. So we want to connect with our donors in a way that’s responsive. It’s contextual, and it’s collaborative. And when you can create that personal connection, we move into the suggest phase. And this is the idea that we want to make the right ask at the right time. And asking doesn’t always mean that we’re asking for money. The right ask at the right time could be asking a donor to volunteer and ask at the right time could be asking a donor to be honest, like something we saw during the pandemic, the right suggestion at the right time for some nonprofits, was asking donors to stop their recurring donation. It sounds bonkers. But if you’re on the phone with a recurring donor, at the start of the pandemic, I saw a development officer do this I had a conversation a few months ago with him about it. He was on the phone with a recurring donor. Now this donor had just lost his job, didn’t know how he was going to pay the mortgage, VITAS family time of incredible stress at the beginning of the pandemic. And the development officer said, You know what you’ve given so much support to us over the years. We We want to try and support you. I’m going to pause your recurring donation. And I’d love to circle back in eight to 12 months and just check in on how you’re doing. And maybe we can consider like re upping your donation in nine months. That is listening to a donor that is connecting personally. And that is making the right suggestion at the right time. And it deepens donor loyalty because they feel seen, they feel heard. It sounds wild, but this is this is powerful transformational fundraising. So making the right suggestion at the right time, and then we want to go back and learn. We want to see what works, what doesn’t. Which email subject lines get more opens? Which calls to action? Are our donors responding to more? A question that I love to ask fundraising teams are? Do you track the number of abandons on your giving page? Right?

Unknown Speaker 20:54
Approximately 76% of people that land on your giving page will leave it and not never make a gift. So what can we learn from that? How do we make changes to optimize our giving pages? How are we cultivating those donors that abandoned to bring them back, right? We have to be learning we have to adapt. Our plans need to be written in pencil, not pen. So when we better listen and learn it, contextualize is the way that we can connect, right, and just recognizing we live in a hyper connected world, we live in a busy world. And just because someone left your donation page, doesn’t mean that they don’t want to give, but we have to contextualize the way that we re follow up with them. So this is the responsive fundraising methodology. And I really hope it sets the stage for where we’re going with building a donor journey, because when we build out our donor journeys, we want to make sure that we’re listening, we want to make sure that we’re bringing in the right data and intense signals, we want to make sure that we’re creating the right connections to make the right ask at the right time. So how do we begin mapping a donor journey? So let’s start diving into the weeds. Each donor experience is unique, we already talked about all the different pathways in which a donor can come and engage with you. So let’s just take Stephen, for example, he makes a first gift to a water campaign, maybe he’s given to charity water. So what are the first steps that will happen? Not just for Steven, but for every donor that is categorized as a first time donor? Right. Steven is just a representation of a greater segment of donors, you will always have first time donors. What is the first time donor journey? What’s the first email they get? When do they get a phone call? When do they get a text message? When did they get a program impact story? And how are we mapping this out? We can also look at Jenna, we just talked about donation page abandons right? How are we contextually following up with Jenna? You know, are we pulling a report of you know, maybe monthly of every donor that abandons a donation page and doesn’t give? So how are we creating connection with that segment of donors, and it might be 2550 donors, it might be 500 donors depending on the size of your organization. But when we can, when we can think about what the donor experiences, we can map out a donor journey, not just for an individual, but for a whole segment of people. We also can look at Shivani, who hasn’t given him 13 months? What are the calls to action? And what is the information that we want to give to someone I guess that we call a quote unquote, lapsed donor journey. I think that word lapse is silly. I think Patrick will really get a kick out of this. No donor in the world considers themselves lapsed, only we do, right. It’s like, it’s like every donor that’s ever given probably still considers themselves a deep supporter and passionate of giver to your cause. So how do we close the gap to remind them of the passion that sparked their gift in the first place? When we think about a lapsed donor journey. You can also go to Charlie, he clicks in emails, he clicks through an email and downloads a PDF and maybe that maybe that PDF is about a program or a gala, or volunteering. So whatever the content and context is, within that PDF that we sent, Charlie, if he went through the point where he’s engaged enough that he’s clicking through to it, if it’s about volunteering at your organization, maybe a great next step is contextualizing the follow up to see if he would sign up for a volunteer activation within the next 30 days. Right so we can create these journeys journeys for our donors that are based upon their unique experiences and passion points. Patrick, I’m laughing at the chat. So now is like really where we’re getting to the meat of it. And to be honest, like Sammy Patrick, you know, Laurie, if anybody like wants to chime in, you know, I want to make this as Collaborative as possible. I’m also just happy to walk you folks through it. So no big deal either way, but happy to field questions or if you have notes of inspiration, or if you want to chime in and build on a point like this is this is collaborative. So I want to go through the six steps of how to map a donor journey. And then what we’re going to do is we’re actually going to go through each step so that you have practical takeaways, so that you know how to get started, wherever you are today.

Unknown Speaker 25:27
I think what’s really important for us here at virtuous is that like, we always give the advice that you don’t like making changes to become more responsive, and to use the responsive framework doesn’t have to be a big shift. Making changes can also be about making small tweaks today that have a compound effect over time till tomorrow. So what are the small things we can do today? Where do we start small so that we can start to make little adjustments that have an impact on our fundraising strategy. So that’s the lens in which I hope everyone views how to map a donor journey. It’s starting wherever you are today. And wherever you are, is, is fine. We’re here for progress, not perfection. So number one, we want to create personas, on the slide that I just showed you, we had a first time donor journey, we had a lapsed donor journey, we had donors that abandoned donation page, and we actually had faces and names associated with each of those groups. So we create personas that help humanize the groups and segments that we want to target and create deeper connection with, we want to list out the action steps just very simply in a list, Hey, these are the these are the five to six action steps that after a donor engages with us in a certain way, whether it’s a first time gift, or repeat gift, signing up as a recurring donor or volunteering, we want to list out these action steps. And then we want to match those action steps to messaging points. Once we figure out what the messaging points will be, for each of those action steps, this is where we’re creating connection. And we’re gonna go deeper into what that means. We’ll talk a lot about the power of Multi Channel Communications, and what it means to use donor preferred channels for communication. Because again, speaking and connecting with a donor through their preferred communication channel is how we also personalize that scale. And then, as we create connections, what are the suggestions right in the suggestions? We’ve been really nicely with the action steps, but what are the suggestions that we’re making along the way? So again, that’s not just money. It’s time it’s talent. It’s, you know, do you want to host a house party? Do you want to run a peer to peer fundraising campaign? Do you want to give again, do you want to volunteer? Like there are a myriad of action steps and suggestions that we can suggest to our donors. And lastly, we can also Patrick asked a great question, can we create personas with businesses to 100%, if you want to go into the depth of looking at, hey, we’re looking for three different types of sponsors for our gala this year, I’m going to create three different personas to help me better humanize the connection that I create with sponsors for this year’s event, you know, this can be applied not just to donors, but to supporters, this could even be applied to, you know, different networks of advocates. You name it, right. Like this is I think the the recommendation here would be to Patrick’s question, can we create personas with businesses to is that personalization is also it’s, it’s only unique to your nonprofit. So every nonprofit has different audiences, every nonprofit has, you know, different people that they’re trying to reach. Right? Like who a, you know, a homeless, you know, a homeless ministry is trying to reach is going to be different than a hospital foundation is going to be different than an international development organization, or a human rights organization, right. Like, we all have nuances that are personal to us. So I think it’s also recognizing when we think about creating personas and creating personalization, what’s personal to our organization, and the more that you can lean into that the more powerful your donor journey will be. So what I’d love to do is and maybe say, Me and Patrick, you tell me, I want to dive into each six of these steps in a little bit more detail. We’re at you know, we’re about halfway through the presentation. I’d love to spend 15 minutes, just walking through these six steps, and then we can wrap and maybe have a little bit of time for conversation or questions. But is it helpful if I leave the slide up so folks can see it? Or do you want me to pull it back?

Patrick Kirby 30:02
I’d keep away. I keep this up here. Let’s walk through all of these. Great,

Unknown Speaker 30:09
great, great, great. So we’re going to start with creating personas. And really you can think about your personas as your donor segments. So in order to create a personalized donor journey, you need to know your donors. And you want to create an individual journey for each like for each persona group, right? To be honest, it’s impossible to create a hyper, hyper hyper personalized journey for every individual. You can’t map if you have 2,001st time donors a year, you can’t map out 2000 different journeys for each individual. But we can use personas to help us identify what are the what are the commonalities within groups of donors within our database that allow us to create our segments. So segments are the groups that you are going to put your donors into, that’s your first time donor, your lapsed donor, maybe you want to do it based on program. You know, you could even do it based upon giving capacity or giving them out, right, it’s like, it’s totally up to you. I think our recommendation is if you haven’t done donor journey mapping before, start simple and start with like one to three segments. So determine what are the first one to three segments you want to start with. And then create personas for those segments. And personas are the fictional character that is that you are going to assign to a broader segment that will be representative of those people. And it’s literally like, give them a name, find a profile headshot, like build out a story around, you know, where do they live? And do they have kids? Do they have a family? Are they single? What’s their job? Right? Like, really use the persona to humanize the segment that you’re looking to target? So Sammy has a great question. What do you say to people that feel nervous about being too specific, that they’ll limit their donor pool? That’s a good question. And I think that’s why that’s why testing and learning is so important. And that’s also why we recommend starting small. So I think, start broad like it doesn’t hurt you to start more broad and get more specific over time, the more you learn. So for example, I always just love to give the example because it feels like the most tangible. Just start with a first time donor journey, like something that you will always have is new first time donors. So what’s the journey that a first time donor is going to go on, to bring them closer to your mission to help them see the impact of their first gift, so that they’ll be more engaged to hopefully give again, whether that’s with their time, their talent or their money. And so what you can do over time is you can take that sort of larger, broader segment. And as those first time donors come in and continue to engage with you, you’re going to learn more about individuals that are within that broader pool. And maybe you will learn about some common trends between some of those individuals that would allow you to hyper target an audience within your first time donor segment. So I wouldn’t be too nervous about being too specific. I think the the reminder is that our donors are living in a world of specificity. Our donors are living in a world where they’re already adjusted to hyper personalization. So I think what throws a donor off is, hey, I just, you know, I just, you know, this is like a heavy example, but maybe you lost a parent to cancer. And you decided to give in their memory to a hospital foundation that’s working to cure cancer. I think the biggest concern here is not lit is when you do limit the specificity is the in personalization and giving a broad response and not recognizing how deeply personal that experience is for that donor that gave that, you know, inspired them to give, even if it’s in a moment of grief, if we don’t honor that with specificity, that’s when we alienate our donors. So I actually I really want to like push and empower people to, like, be bold in your specificity, like get specific. Because that context and that personalization is what’s going to help your donors feel seen. Is that um, I’m just curious, Sammy, like is do you have anything else to add to that?

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 34:33
Yeah, no, that was perfect. I think. I think that’s the thing for people with built mapping journeys and automation is like, how do we balance that?

Unknown Speaker 34:43
Yeah. Yeah, I think I think it’s like be bold in your specificity and and, like, use, use data and analysis to learn and like, see what works, see what doesn’t, so that you can just make better decisions moving forward. So So as we think about creating segments and personas, there’s also like, there’s, I want to just cover real quick, like three types of donor signals that you can listen for. Right. So so when we think about to Sammys question, you know, how do we get more specific? And how specific is too specific? I think my hope is that these three donor signals could help inform your specificity. So I think first of all, we’re looking at involvement. So involvement is really categorized by how someone engages some questions that I would ask you is, are they an active donor? How many years have they’ve been giving? What’s their lifetime giving to date? Do they volunteer often? Or have they never volunteered? Have they attended an in person event or a virtual event? Have they given online or offline? Are they a first time donor or a repeat donor? So when we look at a donors level of involvement, it shows us how they engage. The second piece of what we’re looking to listen for after involvement is interest. And the interest is saying, Okay, we haven’t engaged donor, but what are they engaging with? So are they giving monthly to women’s support programs? Are they volunteering to mentor young girls? Are they requesting more information to learn? Maybe they’re viewing a child adoption article on your website, right? They’re involved, they’re engaged, but we’re looking at their interest, like, where are they leaning in? Like, where are they saying, I’m passionate about this, I want, or I want more information. So we look at their involvement, we look at their interest. And then what we also want to look for is intent. And the intent is the why the why is behind why they do this. So there’s a few ways that we can discover the why. And I think part of it is being more proactive about picking up the phone. I think sometimes we’re afraid to pick up the phone, or even send a text message, or send a video, right? Like I just think like, we need to be having more conversations with our donors. And if a donor is looking at the child adoption page, maybe the first phone call that you make isn’t about donating to support more children. Maybe the first phone call you made is just inquiring with, with curiosity around what led someone to want to look at that page, where are they in their life? What can you learn about their y, you can also we also highly recommend that people survey their donors. So that could be serving a certain amount of segments on a every nine month rotation, but put out a brief like five to seven questions survey that has some qualitative and quantitative responses, that helps kind of unearth some of the why. And when you learn the why then informs Oh, okay, like, I can see how this broadly applies to this segment in this persona. And it allows you to create that deeper connection. Sammy made a great point love sending videos in our emails that are personalized, they’re quick and easy. See, a lot of nonprofits do this well, and it could be everything from like, you know, maybe you want to communicate to your monthly donors in a more personal way. And that’s the segment that you’re pursuing. And maybe for whatever reason or another, like your monthly donors prefer, you know, maybe they’re like a, I don’t know, maybe they’re maybe your audience is like a more elite audience. And they’re more interested in hearing from your CEO than a program officer. scheduled time once a month of your CEO for five hours to just hammer out 32nd personalized videos where you’re calling out monthly donors by name. This is this is something that I did at a nonprofit that I used to work with, I would actually get two hours every week with our founder and CEO. And all we would do is I would pull listen segments. And I would say, All right, I got your script, we’re going to be calling out these people by name. We’re hitting record, and we just go great way to like to help personalize that scale. So

Unknown Speaker 39:10
Brian, can I ask a question on that, please? Yeah. Okay. Um, elaborate a little bit. So with that, is it a thank you video where you’re just saying, Thank you so and so donor? And then thank you on to the next one, or is it more personalized?

Unknown Speaker 39:27
It could be more personal. Right? Like you could do something like it could be just a thank you. Or it could be maybe something time sensitive. I think that’s why i i would recommend scheduling monthly because like the environment in which you’re operating in could change. So maybe something urgent comes up where you’re doing like a flash fundraising campaign. And like you want to call on your most dedicated base of fundraisers to call them to action to maybe make a one time gift this month in addition to their monthly gift, so maybe it’s Hey, you know, thank you so much for your support. This you know, x need just came up within our homeless shelter. And we’ve had an influx of people impacted by homelessness in the community in the last six weeks. And we really need your help right now. Right? Like, that kind of personalization that like you’re bringing them along with you on your needs, you’re being open and honest. You know, could even be like, you know, maybe you’re maybe there’s like a future activation that you want to, like, raise awareness about. So I think it doesn’t just have to be a thank you, I think you can contextualize to like, what’s happening in real time at your nonprofit,

Unknown Speaker 40:30
and you’re delivering that to them via email, text, something like that. It’s not going on social media.

Unknown Speaker 40:38
Yeah, sometimes what we used to do is, depending on the content, the like, the content that’s in the message, this, this might feel a little impersonal, but our supporters loved it. The CEO gave me access to his Facebook account, we’d record the videos, and I’d friend supporters and donors on Facebook, and I dropped the videos in their Facebook feed, and they loved it. Right, but that was like contextual to our audience, you know, it might be more appropriate to send it via email or to even text a link with the video. So

Unknown Speaker 41:08
thank you,

Patrick Kirby 41:09
to you to Lori is that if you had something like, Hey, you’re you’re one of the few people that understand this better than everybody else is one of our big supporters like almost like make them feel like a VIP within the VIP of all your your supporters and businesses. And that way, like, Oh, you thought of me, just more to Brian’s point like that personal is that hyper personalization is so brilliant, and this is why this is, this is why what Brian saying is so important to like, just double down on is that a 32nd 12 second video of Laurie, I know, you know us better than everybody else. And you know the importance of this, we really need your support, and we really need your help, blah, blah, blah.

Unknown Speaker 41:53
Love it. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 41:55
Yeah, we saw, during the pandemic, I saw hospitals do this really well, they would literally just like, put a cell phone in the hand of a nurse or practitioner in the hospital. And they would just like film updates throughout the day and send it back to the development team. And like, I think we’re living in an age where like, things don’t have to be as fancy I think we used to like be overly produced. But I think authenticity is king. And we’re living in a world where a donor is going to appreciate a really authentic, heartfelt message that’s maybe a little rough around the edges, then some highly polished, like, produce a video. So

Unknown Speaker 42:31
when I’ve been looking for some different ways to call it because we’d like our diamond sponsors, and you know, that type of thing. And, yes, they want their logo on, you know, here and there and whatever. But to get in to get them on film, we do a yearly video for our gala. And they don’t, they don’t want to do that they want their logo on there, but they don’t want to be but maybe me going out of my comfort zone a little bit and doing a mini video like thank you to three, renewal all of that on social media. That could that could be huge.

Unknown Speaker 43:05
Yeah, I love it. Plus, it’s like it’s giving their brand exposure to it publicly, right? There’s like some residual benefits that make everybody feel

Unknown Speaker 43:13
great. Yeah. Great. Thank you. Love that.

Unknown Speaker 43:16
So Whoa, time is flying by we have 13 minutes left, and we’ve only covered personas. Oh. So we’re we might move through the next few stages kind of quickly. But I think they’re all pretty self explanatory when you get into it. So let’s move from personas to listing out our action steps. I just want to highlight like four different categories of action steps that you can build out. So one is awareness. The second is engagement. The third is generosity. And the fourth is advocacy. So when you think about the journey that you want to bring someone on, you first want to raise awareness with them, you then want to engage with them. The hope is that the engagement unlocks generosity of some kind, again, whether that’s money or volunteering or something else. And then we want acts of generosity to fuel acts of advocacy. So bringing donors not to be just donors, but to be advocates and champions of our cause. So I’m just going to list out some possible action steps within these categories. So awareness actions could be visiting your website, clicking on a social media ad, seeing your organization in the news or the media, maybe it’s hearing a public service announcement or watching a video, right? It’s something that raises their awareness. So then after they’re aware, we want to try to engage them. So this could be having a call to action, like subscribing to your blog or email. It could be maybe like after seeing an ad on social media, they actually follow you and like your page. Maybe it’s actually watching the full length of a video on YouTube, maybe an engagement action is signing up and attending a local event. So then, as we move from engagement into generosity, generosity is about about presenting the opportunities to give in the hole in we’re talking holistically holistic generosity. So time talent treasure, making a donation, signing up to volunteer, becoming a monthly donor. And then in the advocacy phase, donors are sharing your messages with others. So advocacy could include Okay, great, like, I’m aware, I’m engaged, I’m giving. And now I’m launching a peer to peer fundraising campaign. Now I’m going to host a small fundraising dinner at my house for my friends, or I’m going to invite a friend or loved one to volunteer with me. Or maybe you’re going to share your fundraising campaign on your social media, right, like we’re be we’re turning our donors into advocates. You, Sammy Patrick, I’m just curious, I’m just gonna throw it out there. Like, at any point, I’m just curious if you ever have anything to add, I

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 46:04
think what I love about this whole mapping a donor journey is it’s so lined out with how corporations treat their customers and creating loyalty and their customers. So it’s like, you know, for those people that have business people on their board, or like in their organization, like if you can frame this out in the way that they speak, like, it makes so much sense. And it kind of makes it a little bit easier. Like you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Like take a look at some of your favorite customers, like your favorite companies that you have amazing experiences with. And like mirror what they’re doing in their actions and how, like what like take, pay attention to how you’re getting going from like clicking on a Facebook ad for a company you like to where all of that stuff takes you the emails you get. And then the other things that you see, like that’s basically what you’re saying the

Patrick Kirby 46:51
action steps. Yep. sales, marketing, fundraising, entrepreneurship, this is everything, everything. And I think I think this is what makes fundraising so accessible when you break it down to this because this right here, this whole journey, customer journey, same thing. And that’s what that’s why you’ve made this so simple to understand is, and that’s what I think is so brilliant about this whole process, this whole framework right here.

Unknown Speaker 47:25
Love it. Love it. Oh, the clock is ticking. So we’ve listed out our action steps. The next one’s really simple. We have to we have to match those action steps to messages. So and that’s just really practical to like, What’s the subject of the email? And what’s the content of the email? Or what do we want to what stories? Do we want to feature on a landing page or a blog? Or what changes do we need to make to our online giving form in order to inspire and create deeper connection? So I’d say messages is also more than like copywriting messages is also the look and feel of the experience, on your website on social media, the content that you’re creating. So as we think about listing those action steps, we just want to align those action steps to the right messages, the right words, the right visuals, the right stories, that align that would bring a donor from awareness to advocacy. So match actions to messaging is pretty simple. And the next one is creating connection. And the there’s just one, if I could make one point on this, this is what I would say. Virtuous did a study with one of our partners next after, and it was a study on the state of multichannel donor communications. And we gave gifts to 109 nonprofits. And we actually analyzed the ways in which they communicated to us after the gift. And the results were astounding. So the big sort of like banner takeaway from this study was that you have nonprofits that only communicate through one channel like email, or direct mail. And then you have nonprofits that do email, texts, direct mail, phone calls, videos, social. The nonprofits that use multiple channels, saw a 300% increase in lifetime giving from their donors. So that’s to say when you create connection with your donors, if you do so if you’re telling your story, across multiple channels, you increase the impact for your mission mission three times.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 49:39
I just want to say I love that stat. Because I think so many organizations they get is, well, we don’t want to bombard our donors, because then they’ll be annoyed with us and so like just that stat alone

Patrick Kirby 49:51

Unknown Speaker 49:52
otherwise. Yeah. In fact, your donors want to hear from you and they want to hear from you through various channels and have preferred communication. And you can also learn more about your donors here, like maybe you have a donor that like, responds to the call to action and every direct mail piece, but never opens your email. So that’s a great nudge to say, Maybe I should just stop emailing this donor and like, call them more and send them more direct mail. Right, like, there’s a lot we can learn here too. Awesome. So as we think about creating connection, we want to think about, you know, all of the channels that we’re using, and then we also want to consider the frequency and the cadence. So actually be intentional to say like, you don’t have to bombard a donor with five communications in one week, maybe your donor journey, and the channels that you communicate are going to roll out over a six week window. So just mapping out that frequency in that cadence is helpful to create the appropriate timing and spacing. But it also leads us into the next phase, because when we cadence something out, and we space it out, and we time it and it’s intentional, it allows us to make the right suggestion at the right time. So maybe, maybe we don’t want to make another donation asked to a first time donor for four to six months, you can actually map out your donor journey that far out. But what are all of the action steps that will happen in that four to six month window, at what cadence until you get to the next call to action suggestion? Right? So we want to cadence it out and think about what are the suggestions that we’re making along the whole journey. And a suggestion could be as simple as, oh, my gosh, we have this amazing, inspirational story that happened in the field last week. And we’ve surfaced it in this blog, and we’d love you to read it. That’s a suggestion to suggestion that deepens awareness and engagement that will feel more giving and more advocacy in the future. And then the last step here is review and learn. So when we map out our donor journeys, we actually want to go back and we want to look at what donors answer the phones, what donors responded direct mail, what don’t like what’s, what’s the open rate on our emails? Where are we driving donors to on our website, like, we actually want to go back and look at the metrics and look at the data, because it will inform us on how we can actually make minor tweaks to our donor journey, so that we can make small improvements over time again, like we’re looking for process like progress, not perfection. So just reviewing and learning so that we can make the right adjustments to create deeper connection, along with the donor journey. So with the four minutes that I have left, that that is a quick overview, how we map the six steps of a donor journey. And I think I just want to cover really quickly, how do you scale it.

Unknown Speaker 52:44
And so we want to imagine for a moment, you know, Britt, here attends a virtual event. And after attending the virtual event, she gets a thank you email with a survey of her interests. One day later, she gets a thank you call from the team. And then maybe two days later, after that call happens, she gets an SMS text from the program team that’s maybe based on her interest from the survey. Maybe there’s a link in that text that drives Britt to go to your website. And then a day later, after visiting the website, she gets an email with a donation ask that’s based on the page that she visited. Britain gives her first gift and 15 Laters, she gets a postcard in the mail, that closes the loop on her impact. So we’re just looking here at connection based timing. It’s based on her intent. It’s across multiple channels, multiple channels. And it’s hyper personal. And when you think about this, you could scale this across all of your segments in your personas. So when we think about all the doorways that all of our donors and supporters come through, what are the action steps that we’re listing out? And what are the channels that we want to communicate with them? And how are we using technology to automate these action steps, right? Like, there you have access to the tools and technology that can send a major gifts officer a task in your CRM, to call a donor when they visit the website? That is that is fully possible and is fully realized in the world today. So I think the other question is, like, do you have the tools and technologies that can help you work faster to know more about how your donors are engaging? And so you can kind of see how this starts to scale across different personas and segments. And I think where we’re left is, we have a choice. And we can carry on and our traditional way of fundraising that’s static and siloed, and mass spray and pray or we can choose to be more responsive we can choose to be more dynamic, and personal and use multiple channels and virtuous helps nonprofits do this through a range of different solutions from nonprofit CRM, automation tools, digital giving experiences, donor signals and data The Event Management, Marketing Tools, and more. But these are just a few of the examples of tools and technologies that exist in the world that help nonprofits do this. And I want to make sure that you all have the ability to go back and dive into everything that we talked about today. So if you just scan this QR code here on the screen, this will bring you to a web page where you can download the donor journey book, The donor journey book actually includes in detail, all of the six phases of mapping a donor journey, so you can sit with it, and you can sit down and start mapping donor journeys of your own. This is free, this is a value add. We’ll also make sure that Patrick and Sammy get the link so that they can send it out and share it with everyone that’s a member of nonprofit boot camp. And that is a wrap for our time together.

Patrick Kirby 55:52
Oh, well. I’m slow clapping, because it’s so good, per usual. That, again, for everybody who’s watching the replay, and for everybody who who stopped on today, this is this is the type of mental conversation that you should be having with your leadership team, regardless of your business or nonprofit or anything in between. Like, this is the playbook. Literally, there’s a QR code that we will send like you get at the end of this thing. There is that’s the playbook that you can use. And you don’t have to overthink it. You don’t have to overcomplicate it, you just have to follow the steps. And boom, you’ve got a better story arc, you’ve got a better path, you’ve got a better map than you did prior to this. Brian is always just genius, my friend, just absolute genius. Thank you so much for being with us. Thanks for for being with our friends here. The AV bootcamp. You’re the best. How can people get a hold of you? If you’ve got questions? How can people get a hold of virtuous cover? Get it set up some sort of meeting to say, how can they be helped by you? Oh,

Unknown Speaker 56:57
well, there’s a lot of ways a, I’m always happy to connect on LinkedIn. So please find me on LinkedIn, I’m happy to share that link as well. You can also head on over to And there’s everything on there from a whole library of more resources and books and free downloads that you can check out. If you’re interested in talking with a nonprofit advisor on how you can do this with our tools and technology. You head right to the homepage and in the top right corner, there’ll be a quick button to connect you with a nonprofit advisor. So we’d love to we’d love to chat and help. But at the end of the day, you know, we hope that the last hour has been valuable so that you can start where

Patrick Kirby 57:39
you are. Brilliant, my friend. Thank you very much on behalf of everybody here at boot camp. Applause galore. Don’t hear it another round of applause to loud noisy. Well done, sir. Appreciate it. Thanks, guys. Hey, hope you join it stick to the next one. We do this monthly, at least 10 times a year. So next one coming up, check the calendar of events and make sure you log on to everybody else that you should log on to because this is amazing, Brian, thank you. Thanks to your friends and virtuous for allowing the time to be spent with us. Thanks everybody here at boot camp for stopping by. We’ll see you next time.

Unknown Speaker 58:13
Thanks, John. Thanks, Patrick. Thanks, Amy.



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