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Donor Journey Mapping Sets the Course for Long-term Giving

Better fundraising comes from understanding your donors, engaging them with empathy, and providing them with a meaningful giving experience.  Donor Journey Mapping is a powerful technique used to understand and effectively guide your donors into making a gift.

What is a donor journey? 

The Donor Journey is a personalized blueprint for the interactions and touchpoints you have with your donors at each stage of engagement.  

Why are Donor Journey Maps important?

With a donor journey map, your team will know exactly what to do to build a strong connection between the donor and your mission, create a better giving experience, and drive generosity–beyond the first gift.

The Phases of the Donor Journey

A donor’s journey, from their first awareness of your cause to a long-term commitment of support, has four general phases:

  • Awareness. Your donor becomes aware of your mission.
  • Consideration.  The donor begins to see how they can help.
  • Decision. The donor gives (usually in response to an appeal or ask).
  • Evangelizing.  The donor has a long-term investment in your organization and encourages others to give.


  1. Know Your “Typical” Donors. Segment your donor/prospect base into groups by shared characteristics (demographics) and perspectives (likes and dislikes, needs, expectations, motivations, attitudes).  Messaging and approaches that show that you empathize with their experience will personally engage your donors.
  2. “Map” actions/touchpoints with each phase of the Donor Journey.
Awareness– Ads
– Blog Posts
– Newsletter
– Social Media posts
Consideration– Success stories (how philanthropy impacts your work)
– Infographics Annual Reports (what you raised, what you did with the money)T
– Testimonials (people you’ve helped, donors who saw impact)
DecisionMake the ask (personally, by direct response appeal)
– Landing Page (Ways to Give, “Your gift of $X will fund…”)
– Donation Page (Ways to Give, gift form)Donate Button (on every page)
– Fundraising Event
EvangelizeThank and recognize, follow up, ask AGAIN
– Newsletters, mailers, reports – Showing Impact
– Peer-to-Peer Fundraising opportunities
– Volunteer opportunities
  1. Plan the RIGHT ask. This comes from listening and monitoring the donor’s response to your engagement touchpoints.
  2. Evaluate and Evolve. Have a strategy for staying connected and learning more about your donors.  They grow and change, and the more you approach them from an empathic understanding of their perspective, the deeper the relationship. 

PRO TIP: DonorSearch Ai’s AI-Analytics synthesizes 800+ data points to provide you with highly-predictive giving likelihood ratings and a well-rounded picture of your donor base.  We deliver the results in a data visualization tool that you can use to build donor segments and inform your actions.

Additional Resources

Client success story

Children’s Minnesota Foundation

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