How Moves Management is Different from the Traditional Sales Funnel


For decades, the business world has utilized a reliable model for attracting and securing deals: the sales funnel. This model allows businesses to capture and retain customers as well as maintain steady revenue. Nonprofits can apply this effective model to their moves management process to increase donations and cultivate donor relationships, but should keep in mind three important differences.

The “Interest” stage: problems vs values

When a prospect is in the “Interest” stage in the traditional sales funnel, the salesperson communicates her company's ability to solve a problem for the prospect with her company’s product or service. By establishing a connection to the prospect’s problems, the company seeks to make the product or service resonate with the prospect’s needs.

Nonprofits, on the other hand, should seek to make their cause resonate with a donor prospect’s values. The “About Us” and “Programs” pages on your website are critical for capturing prospects at this stage—your mission statement and ongoing projects should be clear and descriptive enough for a prospect to visualize a connection to their values. Tailored moves management strategies will further strengthen that connection and exhibit how your organization’s work makes an impact that’s meaningful to them.

Let’s say, for example, your organization needs funding for a community garden project that will provide fresh produce to families in a low-income neighborhood. Jenny, a mother of three, values making meals for her family using organic, locally-grown foods. Your organization can appeal to Jenny’s values by inviting her to tour the garden, sending her a video of a mother’s experience with the garden, and sharing an article from the local newspaper that features your community garden. These strategies allow Jenny to see a link between her values and your organization’s cause.

The “Evaluation” stage: product vs project

While a sales prospect considers price and product or service quality at the “Evaluation” stage in the traditional sales funnel, a donor prospect considers whether your project is worthy of their gift and what type of gift they’ll give. Your goal at this stage is to emphasize the value and impact that a donation has on your project.

The prospect should feel as though their gift can make a difference, so propose gift options based on their giving capacity and clearly communicate the potential impact. Giving capacity, interests, and giving history (e.g. Recency, Frequency, and Monetary data) are useful for tailoring your moves at this stage and making the right ask.

A campaign management tool that works with this data in your existing database will help you efficiently develop relationships with each prospect and earn their donations. For example, if your giving history data show that donors who are under age 30 usually donate less than $50, your campaign should offer a gift option that funds a small aspect of your project (e.g. a $30 donation provides enough fresh produce to feed 3 families).

The action stage: one vs many

Getting a prospect into the “action” stage of the sales funnel is the most rewarding for both for-profit and non-profit professionals. What the organization earns from this action, however, differs between the two sectors. A business earns revenue from a prospect in the action stage—the “action” was a purchase.

While earning a donation might be a primary goal of a campaign for a nonprofit, your organization can earn many other things from prospects in the action stage, such as volunteer registration or a commitment to fundraise on behalf of the organization. Understanding the range of actions that a prospect can take will help you further tailor your campaigns and moves management strategies.

Although nonprofits can inherit some business strategies, not every one is a perfect fit. Using the traditional sales funnel concept, businesses attempt to pique a prospect’s interest to solve problem, make offers based on the evaluation of product or service quality, and drive them to take one important action with their wallet. Nonprofits, on the other hand, make moves to appeal to a prospect’s values, propose gifts based on financial data, and motivate them to take action in many different forms.

An illustration of a woman with raised arms wearing a medal.

Topics: Donor Relationship Management, Campaign Management

Written by Ryan Finkelstein