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Flourish with Funnels

In many organizations, there is an intense focus on the solicitation – the perfect email, the well-crafted letter, the superb script, the proper placement of the phone number for an on-air pledge break. We obsessively report on open rates, returns, the cost to raise a dollar, conversions, and in public media, the dollar per minute footprint. (Yes, it’s true!) And, of course, all of this is tremendously valuable to improve the effectiveness of our campaigns. But what is happening before the ask? And what are we doing after the ask? How are we acquiring new donors and how are we retaining them?

About 8 years ago, I was pondering a “next step” concept. Once someone signed up for our newsletter, followed us on social, attended an event, or made a donation, what was the next step? How could I get them more involved in our activities and better aligned with our mission?

And then, one of my former marketing colleagues brought pirate metrics to the table (the AARRR framework). It so clearly demonstrated my intentions that I not only adopted it into our fundraising efforts, but also wrote about it in my book. (Chapter seven!)

The Growth Funnel Defined

The growth funnel is a framework with a defined set of stages to guide users along a journey utilizing intentional touchpoints to enhance and strengthen relationships. Ultimately, a growth funnel works to convert prospects into partners.

I follow a 6-step model: introduction, cultivation, acquisition, value exchange, stewardship, and ambassador/partner. With just about any campaign, you can incorporate activities that both attract new members and steward existing ones to create a comprehensive, integrated campaign.

Take for example a year-end fundraising initiative. We intentionally worked to attract new audiences and reinvigorate our lapsed donors by launching a series of interesting activities and providing valuable information. Starting in the beginning of November, we’d circulate recipes for the holiday season, how-to videos, and programs related to the holidays by email and on social. Then, we’d mix our solicitations with things like a thank you video from the staff or testimonials from our supporters. All leading up to the final push on December 31.

Beyond the Solicitation

What else can be incorporated into an acquisition strategy or pre-campaign warmup effort? Consider things like surveys, polls, trivia, contests, or giveaways. Utilize a Google AdWords Grant to increase traffic to your website or invest in paid search. Offer downloadable tips, recipes, or stories. Post fast facts, host scavenger hunts, or offer networking opportunities in the form of events.

Moving to the latter end of the funnel, we focus on deepening the relationship with our donors through stewardship with the goal of developing partners and advocates. Tactics related to these activities might involve invitations to special donor events, behind-the-scenes tours, personal notes from the CEO, or discounts to community partners and retailers. Consider cultivating these long-term and dedicated supporters by creating an ambassadors program or club that not only offers exclusivity to the members but also provides additional influencer support to increase awareness of your efforts.

Once you start thinking about activities toward the beginning of the funnel and stewardship at the end, you will naturally move into crafting an integrated campaign. This type of effort aims to meet the needs of all audiences along the funnel from casual observer to enthusiastic partner.

Take a peek at these integrated campaigns:

Need more great ideas? My book is packed with them, as well as creating campaign calendars, launching an ambassadors program.

Plus, I have two practical guides that can help on this journey. Check out The Digital Fundraising Beginner’s Guide covers the basics needed to launch a successful campaign and the Growth Funnel Guide will help you acquire and retain your donors. Both are free… just for you!

And join me at the CauseVox FREE Digital Fundraising Summit on July 22 at 12:30 for the lunch breakout to talk more about Flourishing with Funnels!