Supporter Journeys

Published: 26th November 2020

You will almost certainly have heard the term ‘Supporter Journey’ used in your DDAR working life, but what exactly does it mean? Scroll down to get your head around the basics.

What is a Supporter Journey?

The Supporter Journey project allows us to foster relationships between the University and its alumni and donors, ensuring we always build our communications around their needs and behaviours, with a view to delivering our strategic objectives.

A supporter journey can be described as the experience that the University delivers to donors from the first moment of their support. The journey gives donors the opportunity to increase their engagement, commitment and impact at specific points that are appropriate to them depending on their preferences and behaviour.

What kind of Supporter Journeys should we expect to see at DDAR?

There are a number of different journeys that our alumni and donors could take, depending on where they’re starting (are they current donors, unengaged alumni etc).

A few examples would be:

Not engaged -> Email sign-up and deeper engagement

Encouraging alumni who haven’t heard from us in years, to receive and read the emails and mailings we send to them.

First time donor -> Committed donor

Helping to transform alumni who have given us a one-off donation into someone who donates to the University on a regular basis.

Recent graduate -> Alumni ambassador

Getting recent alumni to engage with the Alumni Relations team and ultimately lead to them signing up as an ambassador.

What does a typical Supporter Journey look like?

A supporter journey plan can look something like the one shown in the image below. This shows the journey that a first time donor might take along the road to becoming a committed donor. It includes actions taken both by DDAR and the first time donor, as well as the feelings we hope the donor experiences along the way.

You may notice that there are opportunities for the legacy donor to enter additional journeys throughout the process (e.g. if they request more info from a student caller, they go onto journey 6b). This ensures that alumni are not just cast free if they don’t follow every step as planned, and instead fall under an alternative journey.

These pathways can more accurately be described as layers of a journey:

For example, as shown above, within a Donor Retention journey, there are different layers someone could fall under, depending on how often they have donated in the past.

How do we help to shape a Supporter Journey?

We all need to keep the Supporter Journey in our minds as we go about our day to day work. Every DDAR colleague should think about how their work impacts the Supporter journey, either positively or negatively.

By ensuring that alumni and donors receive specific communications at the appropriate time in their journey. This planning can take place up to 18 months in advance so it’s important that we take the Supporter Journey into consideration before making any changes to processes.

Core comms are communications or engagement activity (like events) that go at or happen at a fixed time in the calendar to one or more layers.  

They happen no matter the point of the journey someone is at.  

An example is the alumni magazine.

Trigger comms happen at set points after an individual has taken a particular action, as a result of that action.

It reflects the point they are at in the journey.

An example is a new donor welcome pack which could include a video message, such as the one below, featuring our very own DDAR Director, Kate White:

It could also include emails and newsletters that are relevant to whichever step of the journey they’re at:

What if I have questions about a Supporter Journey?

That’s understandable. You might want to make sure that a communication you’re planning to send to alumni doesn’t conflict with an existing supporter journey.

If you have any questions, please contact

Rob Summers or

Tom Jirat in the first instance.

The wider Support Journey working groups consists of Richard Screaton, Tom Fern, Jemma Gurr, Ewan MacLean, Helen Foote, Markus Karlsson-Jones, Sally Mavin, Katie Leatherbarrow, Cheyenne Brown, Pauline Ashton and Mark Lay.

Finally, you should be aware that the Supporter Journey process will evolve over time, improving and adapting, depending on the Division’s priorities. You will of course be kept informed of any changes, and feel free to make any suggestions or ask questions at any time.