Donor Lifecycle

What is the donor lifecycle?

The donor lifecycle describes the way that nonprofit organizations engage with and view their donors from the start of their relationship (when they first learn about your organization) to when they give and beyond. The three phases of the Donor Lifecycle are Acquisition, Retention, and Upgrade.

donor lifecycle acquisition retention upgrade

How do nonprofits use the donor lifecycle?

Nonprofits use the donor lifecycle to gain insights about their donors, including when and how much they give. By doing this, nonprofits can anticipate when it is necessary to reach out to a donor to maximize their donation. Nonprofits have specific strategies to engage donors in each phase of the lifecycle.

Nonprofits want to gain new donors and retain current ones, maximizing their donations at each phase of the donor lifecycle. Understanding donor’s giving characteristics allows nonprofits to tailor donor communication strategies that meet donors where they’re at no matter what phase of the lifecycle they are in.

Bottom line

The donor lifecycle is an important tool for nonprofits when it comes to recruiting and retaining donors while maximizing their donation amounts.

We made a comprehensive donor lifecycle guide that walks you through very practical metrics and actions based on your nonprofit’s donor lifecycle. It doesn’t quite do the work for you, but it gets very close, providing actual steps to begin nurturing your entire donor lifecycle and increasing your donor engagement. (Plus, we’ll give you a free donor lifecycle worksheet to help you get started.)

person holding ipad with donor lifecycle ebook

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