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Connecting With Your Donors, To Understand Their Experience

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

With many of the usual fundraising events cancelled and an increased awareness of the unpredictability that COVID brings, it's understandable that the charitable sector is concerned about the future of fundraising.

A recent survey by Giving Tuesday had one in three respondents say the pandemic posed a “significant threat to their viability.” A drop in fundraising and volunteer activity was reported by nearly two-thirds of respondents; government, philanthropy and peak bodies.

This all means that our existing donors are becoming even more critical.

Donors are so much more than merely a much-needed revenue stream. They often become volunteers, supporters, ambassadors and potentially even recruiters.

In these unprecedented times, there's a lot of concern around what’s going to happen. How can we ensure that our donors are going to be able to support us in the future? And how is it that we can set our organisations up for success in terms of continuing a meaningful relationship with our donors.

One of the most important aspects of being able to connect with your donors is to understand what is important to them. This may seem like something that you would intuitively know, but the value that you create from just talking with your donors and understanding why it is they choose to support your organisation is very powerful. The most meaningful way to get your donors to talk to you about what the experience of donating with you is like, is to simply ask them to tell you the story of how it was that they came to donate to your organisation, and how they’ve found the experience since? What you'll find is as they're telling you that story, there will be aspects that will surprise you, some that will delight you, but you will also get to hear some of the moments that were challenging.

One of the tools that we use to pull all of that information together is a Donor Journey Map. This is where you get all of the information from the conversations that you've had with your donors, and you put it in a simple visual that shows you at a glance, what the end to end donation experience is like. Once you understand what the different stages are and the different touchpoints from the donors perspective, you can understand how those different stages and the different activities that were held within those stages, made the donors feel. What you're really looking to do here is identify the things that are really important to your donors and what are the things that are getting in the way. Sometimes we inadvertently make changes within our organization that makes it difficult for donors to donate to us, so this is where we get to surface these. We also highlight the moments that matter. This can be the pain points or some of the things that our donors really value.

An example of this is, one of the charities we have been working with recently has been writing a blog each month. They ended their monthly blog post with their wins, challenges and any interesting things that were happening in the organisation. What we discovered when talking to their donors, is that donors really loved that openness and transparency. They loved the fact that the organisation was sharing some of the things that were a little unusual or a little difficult, and not just always telling that bright shiny good news story. It would have been so simple for this charity to leave this out of their blog if they didn't understand just how important that was and how much donors valued it.

It's enlightening when you take the time to connect with your donors as you will find something that they value that surprises you, or that they find challenging that you could easily fix for them. One of the most important surprises that our clients find when creating a donor journey map is how much their donors enjoy being asked about their experience.

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