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5 Ways to Build a Better Constituent Journey

By July 2, 2020

By: Amy Bridges, Manager, Global Digital Marketing and Fundraising for IFAW

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) was founded in 1969 and provides hands-on assistance and protection to animals in need all over the world. We work in over 40 countries and six continents, and have a variety of programs including community engagement, disaster response, wildlife rescue, and policy. Through my 15 years of experience in fundraising, including the past two at IFAW, I’ve learned some key strategies and tactics to create meaningful engagements through personalized journeys.

IFAW protects animals in need all over the world

1. Consider Digital Ads as a way to Jumpstart Your Journeys

Investing in digital ad spend on social media channels kicked off one of IFAW’s most successful campaigns ever focusing on relief for the 2019 Australian Bushfires. What really positioned IFAW to be so successful with this campaign was our ad buys and promoted awareness of the fires as soon as they began. By the time the fires started to come to the attention of people all over the world, our posts on Facebook already had thousands of likes and thousands of shares. We had built that credibility and had a positive impact on the Facebook algorithm. The result was 96,000 new donors, 15% of which were re-engaged lapsed donors. Our return on the initial ad spend was just phenomenal, resulting in almost three times the amount of money raised to the amount of money that we spent.

2. Identify What The Journey Should Accomplish

Another successful initiative is our series of welcome journeys containing content relating to the supporter’s acquisition, aimed at helping new constituents get to know more about the organization and our mission. Since disaster work is only one part of what IFAW does, these journeys focus on introducing donors to the breadth of our work. Providing personalized messaging to people who are new to interacting with us is a fantastic way to lay the foundation for engagement.

3. Ask All The Questions

When building out a connected constituent journey, understanding where and how constituents will flow through it is critical. Different channels will yield different results, so proper source coding and tracking is essential to successfully personalize journeys to constituents’ needs. After setting up the journey, it’s important to think through how different types of donors will experience it. For example, what happens if someone is a donor, but they’re a sustaining donor? What piece of data is more important to the goals of the journey? Which piece of information is the key piece of information? Which piece of information is the data point that we’re going to use to build from?

4. Design without Limitations

Constituent journeys can take many forms and allow you to design them to fit the needs of your unique group of constituents. When I start designing a journey, I like to write down the objectives and possibilities before I even open Marketing Cloud. This design phase should be without limitations–it should map out compelling strategy right for the audience without worrying about execution yet. For example, wouldn’t it be compelling if they begin seeing ads on Instagram and Facebook if they haven’t taken any action by the time they reach email number three? Get creative and think big!

5. Build on What You Have, With What You Have (and Get the Zombies off the List)

At this point, you may be asking yourself where to begin. At IFAW, we started with our welcome journey and thought through new engagements and what we found is that as we built out this first journey, the ideas for the second and the third gradually emerged. We were able to spot gaps and areas where constituents could be getting lost or missed, and were able to account for them in other ways. Ask yourself this: once constituents have gotten to know your organization, what happens next? One of the next journeys we are working to build out is one that is focussed on re-engagement, where we contact lapsed donors and engage them until they take some action. Even if that action is to unsubscribe, it’s okay–getting the zombies – or unresponsive email recipients- off your list is an important step to help you prioritize an engaged audience!

When it comes to building successful constituent journeys, don’t be afraid to go big! Big ideas, and big ambitions, and then think through the many possible scenarios to ensure everyone in your target audience is covered. Do not be afraid to try things and remember, the journeys are completely customizable–so make them work for you.

Learn more about building a better constituent journey by downloading our nonprofit crisis communications guide.

About the Author

Amy Bridges, IFAW

Amy Bridges is a creative digital marketing professional with 20 years of fundraising and marketing experience in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. Skills include online fundraising strategy, evidence-based decision-making, and an action-oriented, collaborative working style.