Supporter Journeys

Published: 4th May 2021

You will, by now, have heard the term ‘Supporter Journey’ used in your DDAR working life, but what exactly is a Supporter Journey? 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/alumni/volunteers from the first moment of their support. The journey gives these groups 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).

Click through the slides below to learn about our different journeys:

Core Engagement
1. Core Engagement

Aiming to develop engagement across the alumni population, building pride and increasing the numbers of alumni promoting the university

Donor Retention
2. Donor Retention

Encourage current and previous donors to Manchester to make subsequent gifts and to develop loyal relationships with the University

Major Gifts
3. Major Gifts

Develop mid-value and major donor prospect audiences, such that they increasingly understand why giving is important, feel more engaged, and make gifts to Manchester

Alumni Volunteering
4. Alumni Volunteering

Mobilise alumni volunteers to support the University’s recruitment, employability and social responsibility objectives

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5. Legacy

Improve awareness of leaving a legacy to Manchester and increase the legacy pipeline for the future

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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 prospective legacy donor might take along the road to becoming a committed donor. It includes actions taken both by DDAR and the potential donor, as well as the feelings they may experience along the way.

Each of the five thematic Supporter Journeys listed above is made up of a number of ‘layers’.  A ‘layer’ groups individuals with similar characteristics within that Supporter Journey.  This is so they receive the appropriate experience to get them to Journey’s end point.

The example above is for an individual on SJ5a – Legacies Target Audience, but certain actions move them onto another ‘layer’ within ‘legacy journey’ (or off it entirely).  We are still focussed on achieving the legacy, but need to communicate and engage with individuals on each layer differently to achieve this.

An individual can be on any number of Supporter Journeys, but can only be on one layer per Journey.

Click the button below each Journey to find out more about the layers it contains, the individuals in each, and what the layer aims to achieve within that Journey:

Core Engagement:

Open Layers

Donor Retention:

Open Layers

Major Gifts:

Open Layers

Alumni Volunteering:

Open Layers


Open Layers

How do we help to shape a Supporter Journey?

We all need to keep the Supporter Journeys 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.  This keep the focus of what we are doing strategic, and on the overall goals of the division.

Planning is crucial to Supporter Journeys to make sure thins go at the right time, and to avoid comms and engagement clashes.  A comms and engagement calendar is managed by the SJ Group. Tom Fern will provide details to the Division about this in the next few weeks.

Communications and Engagement in a SJ

SJ comms and engagements fall into two types, Core and Trigger (sometime called ‘Responsive’)

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 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 Tom Fern, Jemma Gurr, Ewan MacLean, Helen Foote, Markus Karlsson-Jones, Sally Mavin, Katie Leatherbarrow, Cheyenne Brown, Pauline Ashton and Kate Bradbury.

The SJ group is one of DDAR’s Key Initiatives and Richard Screaton acts as a sponsor.

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.