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Moves management: 5 stages of an effective donor life cycle

Discover the five stages of moves management for nonprofits, including practical tips and free tools to turn potential supporters into passionate ones.

Anna Bean
September 29, 2023
July 21, 2022
Nerd Mr Butter

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What is moves management?

Moves management is a 5-step process of transforming people who are brand new to your organization into champions for your cause.

You can think of "moves" as the steps in a ladder of donor engagement you set up for your donors to climb. The "management" piece is the intentional way YOU nurture this relationship and guide them through each step, making it as seamless a process as possible. 

Why is moves management so important?

The moves management process helps you increase recurring donations by guiding prospective donors from a general awareness of your organization to a loyal investment in your mission. 

Even the donors who stumble upon your organization "by chance" are introduced to your mission somehow—a friend's Facebook post, an article they read, or an event they attended as a plus one. Moves management lets you take control of this process.

Moves management template

Moves management, like the donor lifecycle, has several core stages around which your organization can make a plan. You can visualize your moves management template as a ladder, funnel, lifecycle, or bullseye. 

 Givebutter's Moves management template

The following template can help you visualize and remember each stage of the moves management cycle, including what steps, tools, and metrics are involved in each.

Stage 1. Awareness: Make your mark 💥

The first step of the donor cultivation cycle is all about catching new donors' eyes with compelling stories of your nonprofit's history, mission, impact, and vision

💃 Moves

Host engaging events: Have dedicated staff or volunteers at each event whose only job is to seek out and welcome newcomers through casual conversations or at a designated information table.

Tell your story: It's critical to share emotionally compelling specifics about your organization and your impact with supporters using 1:1  interactions like phone calls, formal remarks made at events, and within all of your print and online materials. 

🧰 Tools 

Social media: With user-friendly design tools like Canva, create posts that stand out with photos and bold, colorful graphics. Feature quotes from those impacted by your organization, and consider paying to give posts a boost to make the most of this tool. 

Email: A thoughtful email automation strategy can help you scale your awareness plan. If nothing else, add an email signup form to your website or donation page that automatically sends subscribers a welcome email series to learn more about your organization.

🧮 Metrics

Nonprofits in the awareness stage should create goals for and track how many new sign ups or registrations (not new donations—that will come later) they bring in from in-person events, email signups, and online registrations.

Social media metrics at this stage can also help you understand how many people you're reaching on various online platforms and what content is compelling them to click to learn more about your organization.    

💪 Bottom line

The awareness stage is a critical starting point for attracting supporters, regardless of your nonprofit's size or how much you hope to raise from individual donations. With the right tools and strategies, you can streamline the process without watering it down. 

Stage 2. Identification: Understand your donors 🕵️‍♀️

Use the identification stage as a time to take stock of your donor base and who you might prioritize to take to the next level.

💃 Moves 

Audit your current donor list: Segment your list and tailor a moves management cycle to a particular subset of your donors.

Make your new donor wishlist: Identify who you can ask to make a gift to your organization based on things like their giving capacity, and interests.

🧰 Tools

CRM: Contact relationship management, or CRM (a fancy term for a donor database), is an invaluable tool for organizing information about your current and potential donors. 

With Givebutter's free nonprofit CRM, you can:

  • Segment and filter your list any way you'd like
  • Track a donor's gifts, 
  • Note donor interactions (email, text message, event registration, or volunteer history.)

Wealth screening sites: Use sites like WealthEngine to help you do some deeper digging. Wealth screening sites can even connect to your CRM, as with Givebutter's DonorSearch integration

Search engines: Don't forget to use Google, Zillow, or good old-fashioned White Pages to better understand donors.  

🧮 Metrics

The identification stage is a time to set your fundraising goals for your moves management cycle. A donor pyramid can help you determine how many people you need to reach out to and at what level.

💪 Bottom line

Donor prospecting isn't just for well-connected nonprofits. The identification stage will help you take stock of where you are and create a measurable plan for reaching your goals. 

Stage 3. Cultivation: Create multiple touch points 👈

With the help of your team, plan out and put on the calendar the specific ways that you (or someone else—make sure to clearly identify who it will be!) will reach out and get to know donors throughout the year. 

💃 Moves

Leverage existing relationships: Ask your network to help you make connections and introduce you to the folks on your list—which is a great non-monetary ask for an existing donor.

Give individual attention: Touchpoints that meaningfully build a personal relationship will go a long way in the donor cultivation cycle. Here are some ideas: 

  • Meet them one-on-one over coffee or Zoom
  • Email them an article that you think would interest them
  • Invite them personally to an event 

Make non-monetary asks: Consider ways to encourage donors to increase their involvement with your organization without asking for more money like:

  • Asking them to fill out a survey or share feedback
  • Inviting them to volunteer at your next event

Personalize your mass communication: Speak directly to donors using custom merge fields to fill in their name and contribution amount, and any other important specifics.

🧰 Tools

Your CRM can do the heavy lifting here. With Givebutter, you can send free personalized and targeted text messages and email correspondence and even track attendance and volunteer roles at events. 

🧮 Metrics

With conversion tracking, you can get as granular with your data in this stage as you want—even down to which emails a supporter opened and what links they clicked on.

💪 Bottom line

This stage is when you really have to pound the pavement, folks. Donor cultivation must be genuine; prospective donors will sense insincere efforts to get to know them right away. 

Stage 4. Solicitation: Make the ask 💰

Finally! We've reached the point where you will finally make THE ask. 

💃 Moves 

Specify what you're asking for: The actual form a donation ask takes can vary greatly, including:

  • Setting up a recurring donation during your end-of-year fundraising drive 
  • Committing to anchor a team for your charity 5K run
  • Sponsoring the local golf tournament benefiting your organization
  • Buying a table at your annual gala

Set the stage: You would ideally complete this step in person for those VIP major donors.

🧰 Tools 

Payment processor: Attract more donations by accepting Venmo, Google Pay, Apple Pay, text-to-donate, and other popular payment methods on your donation form.

Ticketed events: Be sure to send out regular reminders to prospective donors leading up to the big day.

SMS: People are more likely to give to causes their friends support, and a nudge, even in the form of a text, can get folks over the finish line. Leverage SMS with a peer-to-peer campaign and encourage existing donors to make the ask on behalf of your organization.

🧮 Metrics

Tally up those donations as they come in! A goal bar can be an exciting way to show everyone your progress and encourage more people to donate. 

💪 Bottom line

This is one of the most dreaded phases of the donor lifecycle, especially if it's a one-on-one ask for a bigger gift. But remember: The worst thing anyone can do is say no.

Stage 5. Stewardship: Show the love 💕

To ensure gratitude is a core component of your nonprofit fundraising strategy, make the most of the following moves and tools.

💃 Moves

Say thank you: Share an automated email after an online donation, handwritten note, personalized email, text, or video message, or a social media shoutout. Pick at least two ways to thank each donor, if possible. 

🧰 Tools

Automated receipts: Automated receipts are not a replacement for a proper thank you, but they're a great tool for acknowledging a donation immediately. Givebutter allows you to send automated donation receipts, which you can customize with a short thank-you message. 

Automated text blasts: You can quickly thank supporters via SMS through personalized, outbound texts. And don't forget to liven things up and include a GIF or link to a campaign video.

Personalized thank yous: Givebutter's ThankView integration makes it easy to create personalized thank-you videos at scale, delivering heartfelt appreciation to your supporters.

🧮 Metrics

You've reached the final stage of the moves management cycle. That means it's time to evaluate your progress and determine what you'll do better in the next cycle.

💪 Bottom line

Thanking and acknowledging your donors isn't just a kind thing to do; Guidestar reports donors who receive a thank-you note within 48 hours of donating are four times more likely to make a second contribution. 

… And repeat 🔄

You've made it through each stage of the moves management cycle, and now you're back at the beginning—congrats! 🎉  

This time around, you've got more supporters on your team, whether they're first-time donors or you've moved folks toward recurring donations (or maybe even board positions!). Adjust your awareness strategy and determine how you will cultivate these relationships through the next cycle. 

Make Givebutter the place for your moves management strategy to flourish 

Moves management can transform members of your audience not only into recurring supporters and donors (major gift givers or not!) but true champions for your organization. As a "donor-centered" method, you need a fundraising platform that makes giving fun and easy, and lets you focus on what’s important (changing the world!).

Givebutter is an entirely free, all-in-one fundraising platform that has enabled changemakers worldwide to raise more than $300M for their nonprofit work. Ready to see how Givebutter can set you up for success in every stage of your donor cycle? Sign up for your free account today.

Let's make moves together for a butter world. 💛

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