How Nonprofits Can Use Customer Journey Mapping

Over the course of the year, your organization develops hundreds of opportunities to connect with your supporters. These opportunities may include your website, e-newsletters, social media channels, live events, direct mail, and mentions your organization through media, family and friends.

The sum of all these parts and how your audience interacts with your organization at each stage creates the Customer Journey. A Customer Journey is a full lifecycle view that details all of the interactions a person has with your organization as well as the internal or external influences affecting the person's behaviors.

The Customer Journey is a tool that can help your organization move your audiences to action by helping you:


  • Increase consistency in messaging
  • Identify opportunities to help your audience take the next step in the journey
  • Identifying pain points or road blocks so you can remove them
  • Build empathy for your audiences and consensus internally to support those audiences

Historically, customer journeys have mapped someone's purchase behavior for a product in the marketplace. For example, a customer journey for a local coffee shop may include how people in the neighborhood learn about coffee shops, what motivates them to try the coffee shop, how the experience inside the store affects their behavior, and how some people are motivated to make it their daily coffee shop location.

The idea of the customer journey can easily be adapted to nonprofits and social causes. Occasionally called supporter journeys or donor journeys, they help look at critical points in your constituent lifecycle.

Creating Your First Customer Journey

It's likely that your organization is already focused on the donor or advocacy funnels or lifecycles. These can be viewed as the internal goals to move a constituent from a casual contact to a regular donor or advocate.

Here are a few questions that will help you translate those internal goals into a customer journey:


  • What do you already know about your audiences?
  • Do you have the ability to perform any additional research on your audience?
  • What are all of the touchpoints and communications these constituents receive?
  • How do constituents learn about your organization?
  • How do they become aware of more opportunities to donate or become an advocate?
  • Who do they talk to if they call your organization?
  • What are the factors, internal and external, that affect this constituent's behavior related to your goals? Are there any roadblocks inhibiting the constituent from moving through the lifecycle? These can be technical roadblocks such as online tools that are not working properly. Or they may be informational roadblocks; people may not understand the need represented by your calls to action.​

By asking some basic questions about how your audience is interacting with your organization, you can begin to build a map of contact points. Over time, you can analyze which contact points are most effective at leading people to become new donors or advocates, and which need improvement.

Map-Making 101

When you're ready to turn your customer journey into a full-fledged map, there are plenty of additional resources online to help you get started.


Taking a step back and walking in your constituents' shoes is critical to gain perspective about and empathy for their journey. We can talk all day about the funnel we want them in and the actions we hope they take, but it takes thoughtful research and planning to really improve their journey.

What key customer journeys should you be mapping for your organization? Tell us in the comments below!

Author: Megan Brunner
  • Audience
  • Advocates
  • Donors
  • Journey mapping