The donor motivation pipeline

Donors can be motivated to give in many different ways; a peer to peer campaign, a year-end rush to donate for tax purposes, a deep multi-generational commitment to your mission, a beautifully worded appeal, an impact story that proves undeniable effectiveness of your programs; the list is endless.

We find it helpful to break those motivations down into three easily identifiable categories.

Data, Stories and Experiences.

Data conveys the height of the mountain; story tells me about the sunrise from the top of the mountain; experience allows me to climb the mountain.

Donors are sometimes motivated by just one of these categories of impact, but we find that it’s rare that a data point alone, or a story told in isolation will create long-lasting relationships with donors.

Think of the mountain metaphor again.

Is a person motivated to climb a mountain by how many meters it measures? Will the story you tell them of the time you climbed it make them tie up their boots? Will a Sunday trek up a small hill prepare them for a serious mountain climb? Taken in isolation, each of these things are unlikely to motivate and prepare our mountain climber for a great hike. Put together however, and our hiker has the data they need to adequately train, the stories in mind to motivate them to keep going, and the experience of smaller hikes that prepared them for this more challenging summit push.

You can consider data, story and experience as part of a motivation continuum or pipeline. It may be the incredible results of your program highlighted in a press release that first caught a donor’s eyes. The story you shared with them when they subscribed to your mailing list moved them to give. When you invited them to attend a program as a guest, you gave them that first hand experience of their dollars in action.

Now that you’ve moved them through that motivation pipeline, you’ve developed a committed and engaged donor who will be inspired to give. Congratulations!

Could you develop a data, story and experience pipeline for your organization?

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The Good Partnership, 401 Richmond St West, suite 353, Toronto, ON M5V 3A8

437-886-6047 |