How to Leverage the Nonprofit Buyer’s Journey to Support your Mission

The nonprofit buyer’s journey is key to improving donor retention, increasing volunteers, and building long-term relationships.

If you’re working in the nonprofit sector, there’s always a lot to do and not enough resources. The nonprofit space has gotten significantly more competitive in recent years–whether you need to recruit board members, increase donations, or help people understand your mission. So, how can you do that in the most efficient way? That’s where the nonprofit buyer’s journey comes in.

Though it may sound commercial, the term “buyer’s journey” refers to how people interact with your organization from when they first learn you exist to when they choose to donate, give their time, or become involved on a deeper level. Think of your audience as “shopping” for a worthy cause or positive experience giving back.

This process usually involves a combination of emotive storytelling and building trust. So, what are the moments that turn a reader into a donor or a one-time donor into an advocate? How do people go from researching a cause they care about to trusting you? What makes them believe your mission is more worthy than another good cause?

With some customization, the buyer’s journey is a profoundly useful tool that can help nonprofits understand how to engage and win over target audiences.

These actions will help you use the buyer’s journey to further your mission.

1. Differentiate your stakeholders, their needs, and their journeys. First, segment your audiences (donors, volunteers, employees) and, if resources allow, build a persona for each. Gather insights about each of them to identify pain points, concerns, and motivating factors. Then, map out the steps they take in interacting with your organization and determine if you are providing the kind of information at each step of the buyer’s journey to help them to the next.

Your website, landing pages and social channels can provide useful analytics to understand engagement patterns.  Likewise, social media content is particularly effective in increasing engagement, word-of-month and, ultimately donations.

According to, social media posts were the number one drivers of charitable giving in 2020.

2. Find the hiccups in your customer journey. Now that you’ve identified your key audiences and mapped out their journeys, it’s time to consider what experiences are factoring into their decisions. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are there any pain points they encounter along the way? Can someone easily sign up for your newsletter or connect on social media if they want to?
  • Are there any instances where the momentum gets interrupted? For example, what will your visitor do if donation information is hard to find on your website?
  • How would your donor feel if you left them wondering if the transaction had gone through?
  • What content leads to key conversions or engagements on your website?

By identifying areas of frustration in the journey, you can start to address these pain points and improve your stakeholders’ experiences.

3. Continue to nurture your stakeholders as if they were leads. Once you’ve successfully moved your stakeholders through every stage of their journey (donation, gala RSVP, email sign up, board application, etc.), the work isn’t over. Continue to interact and nurture that relationship with personalized thank you cards, annual reports, email updates, social media photos from events, and special updates. This shows appreciation and builds trust in your brand and can lead to repeat donations, other involvement and even estate planning donations. This is particularly important because nearly 70% of new donors do not donate again, according to

While building a buyer’s journey requires some time and focus, it can pay back in big ways. Let’s chat if you are interested in building a buyer’s journey for your organization:

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