Knowing Your Donors: Creating Marketing Personas for Your Nonprofit

SuperbowlThe past week has been filled with talk about the Super Bowl – both the game and the commercials. This year, the large majority of the post-game ad talk was focused on the two commercials trying to gain awareness for causes. One was an insurance company that focused on a topic that scared the room into silence. The other was a for-profit empowering girls (ten points if you can name the brand that popped up at the end) that left the crowds cheering.

Wait a minute, empowering girls is an appropriate topic for a break during a sport that has come under fire for its culture of violence – often against women? Yes, but the reason is far more complicated than a unique twist in a good public relations campaign. It lies in the personas. A marketing concept that every nonprofit should consider adopting.

A quick Google search for “marketing personas” will lead you to a range of guides that offer the basics (including Hubspot who first introduced the concept to MJA). A persona is one or more conceptual “people” who represent your buyers. As a nonprofit it could easily read – Marketing Personas = Knowing Your Donors.

A persona can help ensure that your direct mail appeals, solicitation strategies, marketing efforts, and events are going to appeal to your ideal current and prospective donors.

The Persona – knowing your donors

What does a persona look like for a nonprofit? Consider your current donors and pick out 1-4 types. Do you see groups of men that come to certain events? What are their other interests? Are they single? Married? Kids? What is the driving force behind further involvement?

Now, give each persona a name. It will help you visualize as we continue considering the donor. Here’s an example:

Slightly Involved Susan

She was introduced to the organization by a friend on the board 5 years ago and has continued to come to the gala and spends, on average $250 on auction items or donations. She is a college graduate, married with 2 children and she works outside of the home.

Beyond the gala, she does not seem to be involved in any other way. There has been no response to direct mailings but prospect research shows she has given $10,000 or more to other nonprofits.

What about Retired Ralph who has given $25 a year for 10 years?

Or Very Involved Veera who offers time readily but minimal giving (but all signs point to capacity).

There is usually more than one person who could, and should, be targeted in the same way. It will create an efficiency as well as efficacy in increasing donations. Which, is why you were interested in knowing your donors in the first place.