How Can You Create a Memorable Monthly Donor Journey?

hiker walking along the road to the mountains.

By: Erica Waasdorp, Eight Principles Fellow, President, A Direct Solution

Last year, I attended a workshop at the International Fundraising Congress in Noordwijkerhout, the Netherlands, about creating memorable donor journeys.

I really enjoyed the session and I was looking forward to implementing it with some of my clients, especially focused on monthly donors.

So, over the past two months, I worked with a client mapping out their monthly donor journey.

This religious organization has a very successful monthly donor program and currently has some 20% of its active donors giving monthly.  But they recently hired additional staff, focused on growing its programs further. So, we wanted to make sure they were fully aware of the processes.

I broke the approach in two sessions.  The first included the new person in charge of the monthly giving program and several of the data-entry and computer volunteers.  We gathered in a room, with sharpies, post-it notes, white board, paper and lots of coffee.

With Principle 2:  Begin at the Beginning™ in mind, I asked the following questions:

  • What happens when a new monthly donor joins?
  • Is there a difference in thank you process for online, direct mail, telemarketing, face-to-face, their current monthly donor acquisition approaches.
  • What do they receive right away?
  • What do they receive next?
  • What does the thank you letter look like?
  • What does the email thank you and the auto-responder look like?  
  • What happens next?
  • How often do they receive an appeal with ask?
  • Which cultivation pieces do they receive?
  • What are they receiving on an annual basis?

Two hours later, we had mapped out the process from start to finish.  Some of the findings were truly eye-opening.  Some cultivation pieces were in place we were not even aware of.  And some things we thought were being done, were actually not done at all, so we knew we had to ‘fix’ some of this.

One monthly donor journey map showed the gaps and over soliciting areas.
We then wrote up the current process and moved to the next phase:
With Principle 5:  Work from the Inside Out™ in mind, we met with the Donor Services staff and asked them to share feedback from the donors, as they’re the eyes and ears of the organization and in daily contact with donors by phone or through letters they receive and read.
Some of it was eye opening, some of it was not.  We then added their feedback to the process done in stage one.  This also allowed us to let the Donor Services staff know that they were valued and that they were an important part of the fundraising process and vital for the monthly donor program.
Now we’re moving to the third stage of identifying monthly donors’ feedback, with Principle 1: Donors are the Drivers® in mind.
We’re creating a survey, aimed at these monthly donors.  We plan to ask them for feedback on the materials they receive.  We look to find answers to the question why they’re giving monthly.
We hope to generate some wonderful donor quotes, strong enough to use in appeals, on the web site, telephone scripts and other outreach materials.
I must say that, all in all, this ‘brainstorming’ approach, where we put ourselves in the donor’s shoes and ‘walk’ through the monthly donor journey, was fun, inspiring and eye-opening.  But most of all, it’s crucial to grow this organization’s monthly donor program to its next level by using the Principle 7: Renew and Refresh™.
We plan to add monthly donor thank you calls to the mix to ensure that every monthly donor feels recognized, special, heard and loved and will stay with the organization for many more years to come.
If you are interested in learning how to start your monthly giving program as a way to generate sustainable funding for your organization, contact me at erica@adirectsolution.com or via (508) 776-1224.

Erica_headshot_042714_resized[5]Erica Waasdorp is the leading authority on Monthly aka “Sustainer” aka “Recurring” Giving. She is author of the book: Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant, co-author of the Monthly Giving Starter Kit and Marketing Kit (in collaboration with Donor Perfect) and as president of A Direct Solution serves non-profit organizations with their fundraising and direct marketing needs with a focus on monthly giving, direct mail/email appeals and grant writing.

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