The fundraising funnel in digital fundraising

How many times have you heard about the Recruitment Funnel? Certainly concepts such as Customer Journey or Buyer Persona are also familiar to you… Digital fundraising is still an adaptation of digital marketing to the objectives and idiosyncrasies of a non-profit organization. Therefore, it is important to master these key concepts of digital marketing and translate them in order to apply them in the best possible way to a third sector entity.

Usually, a Recruitment or Conversion Funnel is represented in the shape of an inverted pyramid with five levels that show the five phases that a person goes through until they meet a marketing objective.

In most cases, when we talk about converting in marketing we are talking about sales. However, the objective to be achieved after going through the different phases of the funnel can be very different depending on the characteristics of our campaign or organization. In digital fundraising, the main objective is to get a person to become an economic partner of the entity, either through a one-time donation, becoming a partner, making a purchase, through a paid registration to an event, etc.

The fundraiser has two main challenges: increasing the number of people who come into contact with the organization (broadening the funnel base) and maximizing the proportion of people who completely go through the funnel compared to the total number of people who enter it. Ideally, our goal would be to achieve a cube in which all the people who enter a phase go to the next until the end, but, logically, in each of the steps the number of people who continue with the process will be reduced and hence the funnel shape so characteristic of this type of process.

The conversion funnel is an analytical tool that allows us to identify in which phases we are performing well and in which we need to improve. This will determine the type of strategy to follow, the priorities and the tools that we must use to achieve the fundraising results that we have set.


What does each level of the Funnel imply?

Let’s see what’s behind each of its levels…


Do they know me? This is the first level of the funnel, through which people who know my organization enter.

If I feel that I am not well known enough, what tools should I use? The most useful in this phase are SEO, SEM, social networks, blogs and digital advertising. The way to use each of these tools may vary depending on the nature or situation of the organization.


Do they consider me as an option? At this level all users pass who, in addition to knowing me, consider me a real option when, for example, doing a volunteer program.

When analyzing this phase, it is essential to have a clear and well-defined buyer persona in order to better understand the characteristics and needs of the target audience.


Continuing with the example of the volunteer: out of the number of people who have considered me as an option, how many have finally done the volunteer program with my organization?

At this level it is important to think about why that potential user should collaborate with us and not with another organization. What added value do we offer?


What is the average life of a volunteer? How long do they stay with us? To ensure that they are faithful to us, we must focus on caring for and personalizing the treatment, knowing them, taking their opinion into account, offering them incentives to continue collaborating with our organization … In this phase it can be very useful to measure the degree of satisfaction of people and how their experience has been.


The collaborator who reaches this stage is much more than that, he is a fan, an ambassador for our organization. These people are those who will defend and speak well of our organization without having any need to do so.


Two extra concepts

In addition, there are two concepts closely related to the conversion funnel, which are worth knowing and applying to our digital fundraising: buyer persona and customer journey.

The Buyer Persona

The Buyer Persona is the personification of our ideal audience and is essential to understand the audience we are addressing. To define it we have to transfer to a fictitious person the characteristics of our typical collaborator and take into account elements such as:

  • Demographic characteristics.
  • Interests.
  • Life / consumption habits.
  • Studies and / or employment.
  • Income level.
  • Personality.

In Digital Fundraising we can define our ideal Buyer Person based on different objectives: profile of our donor or partner, profile of our volunteer, profile of our buyer of solidarity products, profile of our beneficiary…

The Customer Journey

On the other hand, the Customer Journey is a model used to describe the journey of a person from entering through one end of the funnel until reaching the last level. In it we must analyze all the points of contact between this person and our organization, and assess their experience in each of them.


Your main Conversion Funnel

As we have seen previously, it is possible to establish as many conversion funnels as objectives we define within our fundraising strategy: one to get leads, another for donations, another for volunteers … Now, it is advisable to use a main conversion funnel in which our entire audience and the different relationships they may have with our organization are represented.

In this funnel we can establish four levels of relationship: supporters (followers on social networks, web visitors, subscribers to the newsletter, event attendees …); beneficiaries (users our organization helps); volunteers (people who dedicate time and skills to promote our cause altruistically) and financial collaborators (specific donors, partners, buyers of solidarity products, patrons …). From a fundraising point of view, the main objective is to broaden the base of the funnel (grow our audience and number of supporters) and increase their degree of bonding (engagement) until they become economic collaborators.