The upcoming IFC will be challenging presenters and participants as never before

Published by Mike Johnston on

There will be hard questions asked about our sector and I wanted to take a crack at one of them: “If it’s true that one size does NOT fit all donors, and we have limited resources, are there ways for us to give donors a personalized, yet mass marketing, experience?

I believe there is an answer to this question and it is: journey mapping. I’ve seen this technique successfully answer the sticky question above and I’m presenting a masterclass on that topic with my colleague Brian Walsh.

Donor Journey Mapping is a very simple idea: a diagram that illustrates the steps your supporter(s) go through in engaging with your organization, whether it be an event, an online experience, ecommerce experience, or a service, or any combination. The more touch points you have, the more complicated — but necessary — such a map becomes.

Donor journey maps are a “cradle to grave” approach that looks at the lifetime arc of engagement. Since journeys frequently require many interactions with multiple departments over a lengthy period of time, you have an opportunity to:

  1. Develop a relationship between you and your donor
  2. Be more strategic about how to influence the ideal destination of each journey

With deeper relationships comes the increase in fundraising revenue and more predictable methods for achieving acquisition, retention, and conversion goals. If your organization wants to be best-practice, you will compile the journeys into one action plan or road map for implementation. At the end of your journey mapping and compilation, you will have the step-by-step road map to implementing your donor journeys with clear KPIs, milestones, and benchmarks to follow along the way.

Journey Mapping traditionally occurs in three phases (Discovery, Cross-functional Facilitation, Final Presentation). I’ve offered up a brief explanation of each step below:

  1. Discovery and Persona Development

You first take a step back and review key areas for your subsequent journey mapping. First, you’ll determine and get know internal stakeholders and their business objectives. Next, you’ll review your business and web analytics. Then you’ll work with your CRM data to understand your constituents. You’ll want to make sure there is a project champion(s) to determine which journeys to map, and you’ll build behavioural supporter personas to guide each journey. Behavioural Supporter Personas are data-driven, yet fictionalized representations of each ‘segment’ we are working to map. You’ll use this to understand what makes your people tick – and because the personae are products of in depth data review, they are incredibly valuable. When you work on a journey, you aren’t working on a ‘Major Donor’ Journey, you are working on ‘Victor’s Journey,’ for example.

2. Facilitated Session

The next part is probably the most fun. You get a cross-functional team together in room to physically map out the journey – with sticky notes, stickers, etc.

When you piece together your journeys, you want to use a process that captures EVERY element of an experience and I’ve stumbled upon a 16 step process that’s come from the Stanford Design School, companies like Oracle, and others.

The process allows you to develop a multi-layer chronology in order to truly understand each supporter’s experience. Once you’ve identify origins and ideal destinations for each supporter, you develop your map layers, which include:

  1. Supporter behaviours – what is our constituent doing at each step of their journey?
  2. Onstage – what items are they interacting with in this journey? Their inbox, their cell phone, their car, their gift officer, their volunteer coordinator…
  3. Backstage – what is happening behind the scenes concurrently – your database administrator, your call centre, your accounting team, your custodians etc…
  4. Empathy Maps – what is your supporter feeling at every step? These are just some of the layers we work to build with our cross-functional team.

From here, you use a process to identify which points in the current maps are prime points for introducing interventions to improve each narrative and ultimately lead a more delighted supporter to your ideal destination. Once you’ve identified the spots in your map where interventions are needed, you work together to innovate and add new tactics to the journey which will guide your supporter where they need to go.

3. The Action Plan

You then compile the journeys into one action plan for implementation. You will categorize and plot each innovation along an effort/impact matrix to define low hanging fruit and longer term strategies for each journey. Your cross-functional team will revisit your detailed notes from the first two phases of the engagement and provide yourselves with a roadmap for moving forward with automated, fully actionable, improved Donor Journeys.

You will outline clear KPIs, milestones, and benchmarks to follow along the way. The plan will provide your newly aligned and invigorated teams with a plan that has clear next steps to improve constituent experiences.

I truly believe journey mapping is something that we can build together in our sector and that’s why I started the journey club at www.donorjourney.com. Sign up and participate. It’s a place where over 700 charitable organizations from over 20 countries share and learn together.

I can’t forget to urge you to come to our masterclass at the IFC. There’s still a few spots.

Finally, I’ve got some late night listening on journey mapping. I’ve made a few recordings and if you just can’t get to sleep over the next few weeks, take a listen here:


ifc2016This blog post is part of the IFC series. 101fundraising is proud to be the official blog partner of the International Fundraising Congress for the 5th year! More information about Michael’s session at the IFC 2016 can be found here.

Mike Johnston

Michael Johnston is the President and founder of the global fundraising consultancy, Hewitt and Johnston Consultants, co-founder of The Global Legacy Giving Group, the sports-based Pro Am Connection, and is the Founding Chair of the Integrated Marketing Advisory Board. Mike has been a fundaiser for over 23 years and is an expert in direct response fundraising innovation and integrated campaigning. He has worked with 100's of nonprofit organizations all over the world. Mike has helped raised over a billion dollars for his clients around the world.


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