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Crafting the Donor Journey: Tactics for Major, First-Time, and Lapsed Donors

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Fundraising isn't just about asking for money—it's about nurturing relationships! Every donor's interaction with your organization is a step on a unique path—a donor journey that can lead to long-term support and advocacy. Understanding how to support the journeys of major donors, first-time donors, and lapsed donors is essential to the growth of your nonprofit. Here we'll outline strategies for each, helping your cause to thrive.

In all donor interactions, one pivotal tool remains constant—a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Storing valuable donor data, preferences, and giving history within a CRM enables nonprofits to tailor the donor experience precisely and personally. Coupled with dynamic digital fundraising tools, you're equipped to foster each donor's engagement meaningfully.

Major Donor Journey

Major donors are the backbone of many nonprofits, offering substantial financial support that can be a game-changer for your cause. However, securing and retaining major donors is about building trust and cultivating deep personal relationships over time.

Know Your Audience: Major donors rarely make a transformational gift their first time donating to a nonprofit, so It’s important to not assume someone who’s made a donation below $1,000 isn’t a major gift prospect. Using wealth screening software can help you identify major gift prospects in your database—pay close attention to real estate value, membership on community boards, political giving, and charitable giving to other organizations.

Construct a Bespoke Experience: Major donors usually crave a deeper level of involvement. Show them the ins and outs of your projects, arrange meetings with the leaders of your organization, and provide detailed reports on the impact of their contributions.

Engage Regularly, But Respectfully: Communication should be consistent without being intrusive. Major donors should feel valued and informed, not overwhelmed.

Involve Them: Look for ways to involve major donors in decision-making, invite them to special events, and consider their feedback seriously. They should feel they are a vital part of your organization's mission.

The First Time Donor Journey

The first donation can mark the beginning of invaluable support; it's a relationship that needs to be nurtured right from the start. First time donors are the hardest to retain—according to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project only 18.5% of first-time donors will make a second gift! So, it is especially important for first-time donors to have a positive giving experience.

Show Appreciation Immediately: A thank you message that is prompt, personal, and passionate can make a tremendous impression on a first-time donor and set the stage for ongoing support.

Illustrate Impact: Follow up with stories and data showing the good work their money supports. Make it clear that each donation, no matter its size, makes a significant difference. You can even begin the donor journey by demonstrating impact on your donation form!

Invite Further Engagement: Encourage first-time donors to participate in events or volunteer opportunities to strengthen their emotional bond with your work.

Re-engaging the Lapsed Donor

Identifying why donors have stopped donating is as important as inviting new donors. By reestablishing a connection, you can rekindle their commitment to your cause. Donor acquisition, on average, costs 10 to 20 times more than renewing your donors’ support, so it pays to invest time and energy in renewing your donors’ support!

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Get Personal: Use information from your CRM to personalize your outreach. A message that reflects their past contributions and acknowledges their absence can prompt a renewed interest.

Update and Educate: Share updates on new initiatives or successes since they last donated. Remind them of the impact they've made before and show them the potential for further impact.

Make It Easy to Reconnect: Streamline the donation process and perhaps offer specialized opportunities that might interest them based on their previous behavior.


Throughout all journeys, remember to ground each strategy in understanding, empathy, and the shared goal of making a positive change. It's about reinforcing the belief that individual contributions, when united, can foster remarkable transformations in the community and beyond.

In the modern digital landscape, seamless and robust technology solutions are indispensable for supporting diverse donor journeys. We've meticulously developed Bloomerang + Qgiv's All-in-One giving platform with this understanding. Our platform bridges the gap between your cause and your donors' generosity by facilitating every step—from volunteering and making that pivotal first donation to nurturing ongoing donor engagement.

Get ahead of the curve in your fundraising efforts; learn how Bloomerang + Qgiv can empower you to build and maintain strong donor relations!

This content is sponsored by Qgiv.

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