Donor journey fail

There are seven common reasons why donor journeys fail.

1. They are over complicated 

They take too long to plan, too long to create all the content and too long for donors to receive anything. Don’t you want donors to start receiving something now/sooner? 

2. Difficult to implement 

This is more about resources. The planning stages need to factor in what you can and can’t do in terms of your resources (staffing, time, systems) there’s no point having the best plan, for it to only sit in a filing cabinet. 

3. Difficult to measure 

Some aspects of donor journeys INCREASE donor attrition (Yep – they make things WORSE) 

So, you need the option to test some of the stages (especially early in the process) as that’s where most of the impact (both positive and negative) will be. 

4. The channel mix is wrong 

SO many journeys are almost 100% via email. Mailchimp’s figures on emails from charities only show an open rate of less than 25%.   

The content needs to be consumed to make an impact. Your donors need to SEE, HEAR and TOUCH your messaging. 

It’s not cheap if it doesn’t work!  

5. Too broad 

It’s a mistake to try and cover every single donor from every single channel or acquisition point –it’s better to have a spectacular donor experience for 60-70% of your donors. 

6. Too long 

Here is a real example. Let’s say you’re acquiring 100 new RGs a month  

If you improve your zero month (first 30-day cancels) by 3% it equates to an additional $6,649 in revenue. 

A 3% improvement on 3-month attrition only equates to $2,264 

It’s OK if you’re determined to setup a 2-to-3-year journey but the impact will often come from day 1, week 1, month 1.    

This example also demonstrates how people often spend too much on journeys. Sometimes the additional costs essentially offset the improvement in revenue, so you improve in terms of donor numbers but go backwards in terms of net revenue. 

The best return on investment is in the earlier stages. If someone tells you otherwise you should question what their motivation is! 

7. The content is well… boring! 

We’ve all seen it. The CEO with the monotone thank you or welcoming you to a club that hasn’t really been explained to you very well.  

It doesn’t mean much, doesn’t generate any real warmth and doesn’t give you an example of what your generosity will achieve.   

All fundraising is about need, urgency and outcomes. Urgency often takes a backseat on donor journeys because your donor has made a decision already, but you need to keep demonstrating an ongoing need and fantastic outcomes to make it easy for a supporter to stay.  

A lot of times just saying thank you isn’t enough. You’ve got to do more. You’ve got to trigger a rational or emotional response to make sure your messaging cuts through.  

What else can you do? 

Don’t try to re-invent the wheel 

There are things you’re doing now that probably have value – before you map a new process, map and assess what you’re already doing.  

Come back and do Version 2 

Don’t set and forget it, make tweaks and improvements (especially in the first month or two of the journey). 

If you want to talk to us about how to get your donor journey right, we would love to talk to you. Go to