Bethesda-Escalator Developing a smart donor pipeline, from first contact through different levels of giving, has always been a part of good fundraising operations. But nowadays, with different points of contact, different resulting demographics, and other challenges, you often need more than one donor pipeline for each of several donor personas. If you're new to donor pipelines, or to multiple ones, here are a few things to think about:

(1) Who are your target supporters?

This is probably a combination of personas you can already see in your support group (e.g. middle-aged churchgoing white people who care about international missions), and personas you think you can realistically attract to grow your base. Doing some homework about demographic size, giving habits and capacities, etc. is highly recommended.

(2) What are the points of entry?

What situations have you created (or are developing organically) that will allow people to have a first point of interaction with your organization? A happy hour? A volunteer event? A digital promotion to get people to sign up for your email list? Is each point of entry a realistic one for a given donor persona?

(3) What happens when the donor connects with you?

After the point of entry, what happens next, from the donor's standpoint? They probably don't want you to ask them for money right away. Knowing what you know about a particular persona, how can you follow up with them in a way that will help you build a mutually beneficial relationship?

(4) Why would she give you money?

At some point, you've got to push a donor over the edge and ask for money--passive appeals to mass email lists or Facebook followings aren't nearly as effective as the right person getting in someone's face and asking them to give money right now. But you have to set that up; the donor has to understand your organization, what you're trying to do with her money, why the amount you're asking for will make a difference, and be invested enough to put you on her giving priority list. The process of working through a good donor pipeline is incorporating the right steps so that when you do make the ask, she's already taken the psychological step from "It's a good organization" to "I support Joe's work and want him to succeed." From there, taking the step to actually giving is usually a formality.

(5) Why would she give you money again?

The goal isn't to get her money and run. I mentioned "mutually beneficial relationship." You get her money, and hopefully some amount of her time and talent. But what is she getting out of the relationship? Until you can answer this question, you're just a salesman trying to take her money. My team loves helping organizations build donor pipelines, and other pieces of key strategy and infrastructure to help you build for the future.

Check out some of our services here, or email me to talk through how my team might be able to help. We bring over 50 combined years of nonprofit experience as well as up-to-the-moment knowledge to your situation!

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