Barriers and opportunities for donor experience

Barriers and opportunities for donor experience

Guest Bloggers | 5 July 2018

Never before has the consumer of anything had so much choice and accessibility at their fingertips. From where we get our news, to which shows we watch, to access to new friends. The charities and causes we support, and the longevity of that support, are no different.


According to the Charity Commission, the number of nonprofits registered in the UK is at a nine-year high with more than 168,000, which means competition for the resources of donors is also at an all-time high. What is being done in the culture of fundraising to ensure donors not only feel great about their giving and the difference they’re making, but that nonprofits also ensure deep, meaningful connections with their donor base? A new report by the Donor Experience Project highlights what charities have done so far, and also uncovers the challenges they face in realising their ideal state.


The report found first and foremost that organisations find it difficult to take time away from regular operations to review and improve their donors’ experience. In fact, nearly half of charities surveyed said that pressure to achieve income targets do not allow them to review their donor experience. Leadership buy-in and openness to change is crucial here. If donor experience isn’t at the top of charity leaders’ priorities, it will never be top of their teams’ priorities.


Another major barrier uncovered through the Donor Experience Survey found many nonprofits don’t know where to start when it comes to reviewing their donor experience. Results suggest the need for guidance in several areas. For example 69% would like simple ‘how to’ guides to support them on their journey.


This is where charities can borrow from other sectors. There’s somewhat of a digital revolution happening across every sector today, and some are further along than others. Sure, they might not be charities, but a great place to start is looking at organisations who have been successful in putting the customer at the centre, and adopting some of those best practices at your charity.


While the donor retention and acquisition challenges facing charities today are clear, it’s critical to find ways to overcome barriers, stand out among the crowd and inspire your donors to continue supporting causes they feel passionate about.


So what are nonprofits doing to stand out? The Donor Experience Project found that three out of four of respondents have taken some action or put permanent systems in place to improve the donor experience. Sixty-five per cent are recognising and showcasing their donors in an annual report, for example, while almost half are considering training staff in what’s needed to give donors a great experience. It was great to see that some even created an entire organisation-wide supporter engagement strategy and plan!


The keys to deepening relationships with donors are simple: if you’re a nonprofit, focus on the donor experience; revisit your systems and programs often to ensure constant improvements; help focus leadership on the importance of donor experience; and in the end, remember – it’s a relationship just like any other that needs to be nurtured!


Lori Freeman, Vice President, Nonprofit Industry Solutions and Strategy at


Read the new report by the Donor Experience Project, just launched at Fundraising Convention. The report offers new insights into how donor experience is being used, which were gathered with support from 


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