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Why Donor Journey Maps are Essential to Fundraising Success

January 31, 2023

Digital communications have become extremely crowded. There’s simply too much information coming at us all at once, making it difficult for our organizations’ voices to be heard.

Storytelling is an incredibly effective way to stop people in their tracks and connect with them on a personal level. By telling your story in an engaging way, you can reach new people and help them understand your mission and vision.

Data driven storytelling—which is what donor journey mapping enables—allows you to gain better insights into how people are thinking about your organization and what it stands for. That awareness enables you to craft stories that are more appealing than ever before. This, in turn, helps your organization to reach new people and keep current donors engaged with your work.

In this blog post, we’ll explore donor journey mapping using targeted donor personas and how employing this can help you achieve your fundraising goals.

Donor Journey Mapping and Donor Personas

What is a donor journey map?

A donor journey map is a visual representation of how your target audience interacts with your organization. By understanding the various steps that a donor takes on their journey to support your organization, you can unlock more opportunities to engage and inspire them to act.

Why do you need donor personas?

Seth Godin’s philosophy of tribe marketing (watch his TED Talk) advocates targeting a certain group with language that resonates specifically with them.

For example, if you’re raising money for a charity focused on helping young children, it would make sense to create personae for a young community professional, a couple cruising into retirement, and a family man in the prime of life. Each persona has different motivations (e.g., saving for their child’s college education or starting their own retirement), preferred channels (e.g., social media or traditional media), and preferred brands/influencers (which must be taken into account when crafting the donor journey).

Once you have created your donor personas, it’s important to study the behavior of similar donors in order to design your donation process accordingly. For example, if a family man in the prime of life is most likely to donate through random acts of kindness (RAOK), you might want to create a RAOK donation crowdfunding page specifically for this group of donors.

By understanding your audience and tailoring your donor experience accordingly, you can more effectively tell your organization’s story and reach fundraising goals. However, it’s important to remember that your ultimate goal is not just collecting money—it’s getting donors involved in your mission and programs so that they become lifelong supporters of your work.

The Steps of Donor Journey Mapping

Number 1
Assess your current level of engagement with donors. Do you know how many donors you have and what percentage of them donate regularly? Are you able to track which campaigns are performing well and which ones are struggling? Once you have this information, it’s time to start mapping out your donor engagement path.
Number 2
Gather data about your target audience. This can come from surveys or interactions with your customers directly. With this data, you can segment or group them into personae to give you a better idea of with whom you’re communicating and what their interests are.
Number 3

Create an empathy map (Miro has a useful template) to better understand what motivates your users and gain insight into their attitudes, beliefs and worries. This article by the Canadian Centre for Christian Charities does an excellent job explaining the details.  By understanding these motivations behind your users’ behavior, you can develop more effective marketing campaigns that will reach them on an individual level.

Number 4

Understand how different interactions impact individuals along the continuum of giving. This includes personal contacts (such as face-to-face meetings or email exchanges), interactions with sponsors or partners, and finally taking action (through attending events or making donations). When you have a clear picture of how all these different interactions impact donors, you can create strategic plans for success.

Number 4
Develop a strategy for engaging donors from the moment that they make an initial donation through the entire donation cycle. This will involve creating content (including videos, emails, and blog posts), building relationships with sponsors or partners, and driving donations through loyalty programs or other incentive schemes.


It’s true donor engagement is key to success in fundraising and that data-driven fundraising can be a powerful tool to help you achieve it. However, it all comes down to telling your story in a way that resonates with your audience. By taking some time to map out your donor journey, understand your target audience, and craft a story that will inspire them, you’ll gain more and longer-lasting support for your cause.

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