The donor lifecycle map

A basic donor lifecycle map

A few months ago I posted a blog critical of the donor pyramid and asking why it is still so widely used in the Netherlands (and undoubtedly also some other countries). So now I’d like to propose an alternative. The problem with the pyramid is that it is only useful to show one metric – donor financial value. But it doesn’t tell the larger story of engagement – how a donor interacts with and builds a relationship with an organisation over time: the lifecycle.

So what does your donors’ lifecycle look like? And more importantly, are your donors growing in value (whatever that means to your organisation – financial value, volunteerism, advocacy, etc.) over the duration of that lifespan? How can you visualise how your organisation is performing and how you want to be performing? A simple tool that I favour is the donor lifecycle map. The primary purpose of this tool is to show the correlation of donor value with engagement – both of which, of course, should be growing!


Trying to keep the customer satisfied

From the early seventies until a couple of years ago, the title of this blog was nothing more to me than a Simon & Garfunkel title of a song from their best album ever “Bridge over troubled Water”. But, now I know better…

I recently received a letter from a donor who was about to turn 80 in a few weeks. Here’s a quote from that letter: “I hope to celebrate my 80th birthday in a few weeks’ time and wanted to ask everyone who came to visit me to donate to your cause as a gift to me“.

Sounds great at first, a dedicated donor, willing to give some extra attention to our cause, right? And maybe even bring in some more donors? The man had been a donor for a long time, so he thought of our cause and contacted our head office to give him the necessary material.

And that’s where our story really starts. (more…)

Hosting my first webinar: lessons learned

Thank you so much for the wonderful chance to really feel a part of what is happening in Haiti! These workers are real, sincere, ordinary people with the right training who work on behalf of our pittance donated to help the people in distress. Thank you so much for having enabled us to listen as the team told of their work in such an ongoing needy situation of our confreres in Haiti. Sincerely, a Donor, Oakville, Ontario

I hosted a donor accountability webinar last year. Like the curate’s egg, some parts of it were excellent, others, not so much.

Here it is:

(Click here if the embedded video is not working.)


Is de donateur een klant?

Een donateur is iemand die op vrijwillige basis een goed doel ondersteunt. Meestal met geld. Dit doet de donateur veelal omdat hij iets heeft of voelt met de doelstelling van het gesteunde goede doel. De donateur voelt zich betrokken en laat dit blijken door financieel te steunen. Hierdoor voelt de donateur zich ook een beetje lid, de donateur staat tenslotte samen met het goede doel pal voor de doelstelling. Om de beginvraag maar meteen te beantwoorden: Ja, de donateur is een klant.

Doen de goede doelen wel recht aan die klantstatus? Nemen zij de donateur wel serieus? Wordt een donateur wel als klant gezien? Vaak niet. (more…)

A simple, unconditional, heart-felt, genuine “thank you”

I am a numbers nerd; the queen of testing.  I have passionate love affairs with databases.  And even though, over the years, I’ve done every other fundraising job from copy- and proposal-writing to events to a major gift negotiation —  and even knocking on doors asking for petition signatures and “a check as well so that we have the resources to ensure that this legislation passes” (I was 18. Maybe my start in fundraising?) – I always come back to the numbers. Beautiful numbers.

So when I came to work at an animal sanctuary in the Netherlands, I was more than a little nervous to learn that I would be working as a “donor contact” at a nine day donor visitation event. (“You mean I have to talk to people? For nine straight day? In Dutch?”) (more…)

Testing in fundraising is not for the faint-hearted

It’s not fun being a fundraiser nowadays: depressing trends like declining responses, high-cost-acquisition in combination with through-the-roof-attrition, rock-bottom-retention and charity-bashing-media… pfff, mission impossible?!

Or, is there still a bright light in the fundraising sky? Sure there is, plenty!

We just have to continue to improve ourselves. Watch out that you are not being sucked into the motionless status quo. We will fight attrition, increase response numbers and retention rates, build pure and genuine supporter relationships by honest storytelling and true engagement and raise all the money we need to make this world a better place!

It’s probably not so simple either… and therefore, as fundraisers, we test.


Verprutst u ook wel eens iets?

In ons vakgebied zijn we allemaal handig in het gebruik van -vaak Engelstalig- marketingjargon. Elke dag zijn we als fondsenwervers bezig met high value donors, life time value of upgrading. Onze collega’s houden zich bezig met campaigning en event planning. Eigenlijk alles wat geld oplevert. Loyalty is ook zo’n woord dat rond zingt in onze branche: iedereen weet wat er mee bedoeld wordt en iedere fondsenwerver is er op zijn of haar manier mee bezig. We meten resultaten om dan te concluderen dat dit ene welkomstpakket perfect gewerkt heeft of die bedankbrief misschien bijgeslepen moet worden. Ons uiteindelijke doel is om de kaalslag van donoruitval tegen te gaan en je donors te binden. Ze mogen niet weglopen! Onder geen beding! (more…)

One-night stands ruin your fundraising

“Originally, a one-night stand was a single theatre performance, usually by a guest performer(s) on tour, as opposed to an ongoing engagement. Today, however, the term is more commonly applied to a single sexual encounter, an example of casual sex, in which neither participant has any intention or expectation of a long-term sexual or romantic relationship.” (source: Wikipedia)

Hope I caught your attention. Sex usually does, so I guess you’re still reading. Being new to blogging I recently found out that metaphors usually do the trick. In this blog post a one-night stand opposes the long term focus in fundraising, which is trying to engage in meaningful and lasting supporter relationships.


Top 9 donor loyalty tweets!

First of all I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to the inaugural bloggers who’ve opened this crowdblog with some great blog posts!  We’ve seen 6 blog posts so far and I enjoyed every bit of them! Thank you Rebecca, Victor, Mitch, Margot, Julie and Lars!

Obviously there are a trillion fundraising topics to choose from, but today I’ve chosen one I consider the most important: donor loyalty.

When I started to use Twitter last year I made a few rules for myself. One of them being that I didn’t want to tweet about personal stuff, so I decided to tweet only about fundraising. To boost my followers I thought I’d summarize the best Tiny book in the series: Essentials of Donor Loyalty from professor Adrian Sargeant.