A DIY workshop for lead conversion: Do try this at home!

In February I met with fundraisers in Amsterdam to brainstorm how we could engage our various supporter relationships (‘leads’ or prospects) to move them to become donors to our organizations.

And while I suspect that most came to the session “Turning Likes into Cash” to hear the closely held secret to raising donors via social media (spoiler: there isn’t one), I would like to think that most participants left with at least one practical idea that they didn’t have before the session.

What we did, specifically, was identify the stages that a supporter or prospect undergoes between moment of first contact and the point at which she becomes a committed donor; and then discussed how we can move each constituent from one stage to the next.

This exercise is one that you could do yourself, or in your fundraising, communications or campaign team. It works as follows:

Step 1: Print out this handy worksheet (or make one yourself)

If you do, you will note that it is adapted from a concept by Bill Toliver of The Matale Line (which I used with his permission. Thanks, Bill!) The guy is brilliant, as those of you who heard him at IFC already know.

On the matrix you will see each of the following questions:

  • What is the source of the prospect?
  • What is his mindset currently?
  • What will you ask him to move him to the next stage of involvement?
  • How will you ask him?
  • What is the desired outcome?

Step 2: Make a list of your main sources of donor prospects

And then… and here’s where you really have to start thinking… map them to the most appropriate current level of engagement.

Different leads will of course begin at different levels of involvement, so use the stages at the top to determine where the starting point is. A few examples:


  • Donors to similar organisations are likely to be sympathetic to your cause but unaware of what your organisation does or even that it exists.
  • Mothers will newborns may be unaware of the problem of infant mortality (if that is your issue), but likely good prospects to approach to help fund a mobile birthing clinic in an underdeveloped country.

It goes without saying, of course, that all leads must have a connection to the work of the organisation, if not the organisation itself. Otherwise your message – no matter how compelling – will fall on deaf ears.

Aware/passive interest:

  • Social media ‘likers’
  • Email subscribers

Why are these passive? Simply because it takes very little initiative to click “like” and not much more to sign-up for email updates. Although these individuals probably see some of your content, you haven’t yet motivated them to do anything. Which brings us to the next stage:

Active interest (ACTION):

  • Petition signers
  • Volunteers

Yeah! Here’s where it all starts to happen.

Of course, these are merely examples. Only you will know, based on your knowledge of your supporters, what degree of involvement each has demonstrated. But it really doesn’t matter which box you choose to begin. What is important is that you start thinking about the next step in the engagement chain.

Step 3: Identify the likely mindset of each source of supporter or prospect

This step really challenges us as fundraisers to think from the donor’s perspective! Some examples could be:

“There are so many problems in the world. Why even bother?”

“I believe in this and I want to show my support.”

Step 4: Determine what and how you will ask the lead in order to move him or her to the next stage

These can range from very simple actions, such as sharing a photo on Facebook, to personally calling someone and inviting her to an event. This is the essential step that needs to be taken in order to move the individual to the next level of engagement.

Step 5: Follow these tips to maximize your results

  • Communicate your case (the need and how you help to meet it) clearly across all channels.
  • Social media is all about interaction. Use it to answer the questions and concerns of your supporters and share the discussion with others.
  • Make it easy and attractive to donate (through every engagement channel: even Facebook, petitions, etc.).
  • It’s all about the supporter, not about the organisation. Consider every idea from the donor’s perspective, not your own.
  • Be memorable and inspiring!

Step 6: Repeat steps 1-5 until all every prospect is a committed donor!

Of course participants of the workshop also wanted to know what kind of results they could expect. A few examples from different organisations are therefore included in the full presentation, free for downloading here.


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