Person is an ideal donor persona for a nonprofit

Nonprofit Donor Personas: Get Crystal Clear on Your Fundraising Target Audience

As the world continues to move towards a digital space, nonprofits are shifting to build their online presence. 

That includes digital marketing! After all, how is anyone going to support a nonprofit if they don’t know that it exists? 

But, with so many for-profit businesses, nonprofit organizations, and the general public on the internet, it can be tricky to get your nonprofit in front of your fundraising target audience. 

That’s where nonprofit donor personas are key! 

We’re talking more about donor personas here, so read on: 


Person is the ideal donor persona for a nonprofit


What Are Nonprofit Donor Personas? 

First and foremost, what are nonprofit donor personas? A donor persona is often a document filled with rich information about your ideal supporter. It includes things like demographics, psychographics, behaviors, and more. 

It’s a way for your nonprofit to get crystal clear on who you’re trying to reach in your messaging and marketing. 



Why Are They Important? 

But why do nonprofits need one? Can you not just show up online? 

Well, you can. But nonprofit donor personas make things infinitely easier. When you get super specific about your target audience (even down to one single person!), creating your marketing materials becomes simpler. Rather than feeling like you need to write to everyone, you can write to just one! 

Not only is it easier for your nonprofit’s marketing team, but it’s also a way for the target audience to feel “called” to your organization. 

They can clearly see – “this is for me!” And when they feel that way, they feel more compelled to get involved. 



Can You Have More Than One Donor Persona? 

Yes! You can have more than one donor persona because your target audience might change depending on what you’re campaigning for. 

For example, your ideal donor persona who supports monetarily may not be the same as the one who supports by donating their time. 

So yes, you can create more than one for your nonprofit. But for each one, make it about one single person! 


What Goes Into Nonprofit Donor Personas? 

Your nonprofit’s persona will include demographic, behavioral, and psychographic information. The idea is to get to the root of who they are, how they live their life, what they do for a living, and why they support your cause. 

For everything you include in your persona, be sure to include the why behind it. Why is it important for your nonprofit to know this about them? 

What is Demographic Information: 

Demographics include basic information about your nonprofit’s target audience: 

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Geographic location
  • Education
  • Ethnicity
  • Employment
  • Income bracket

Again, ask yourself why each one matters for your nonprofit. That way you have a clear understanding of how it impacts their willingness to give. 


What is Psychographic Information:

Psychographic information takes your understanding of your fundraising target audience to a new level. With these questions, you’re starting to dig a little deeper into who they are as a person. 

  • What are they passionate about? 
  • What motivates them in life? As it pertains to your nonprofit? 
  • What do they value most? 
  • What are their stark opinions? 
  • What kind of lifestyle do they lead? 
  • What are they frustrated with, especially as it pertains to your cause? 
  • What might keep them from supporting your nonprofit? 


What is Behavioral Information: 

Finally, behavioral information relates to how they interact with your nonprofit or other organizations. 

  • What are their communication preferences? Text, phone call, email, direct mail? 
  • What social media platforms are they on (if any)? 
  • How long do they spend on social media? 
  • What is their relationship to your nonprofit? Are they a monetary donor, a volunteer, or a lead? 
  • What is their giving history with your nonprofit? 
  • Do they support other nonprofits? If so, which ones?


How Can You Make a Donor Persona? 

The best way to create a donor persona is to speak directly with someone who is your fundraising target audience. 

Good, old-fashioned research can’t be beat! So, dig into tools like your nonprofit CRM software or your volunteer management software

From there, you can get in touch with them via email or their preferred method of communication. 

But if you really want to do your research and get to the bottom of your ideal donor, then it’s a great idea to ask them to hop on a video call with you. 

Use the questions above and allow them plenty of time to answer things themselves. Give them the opportunity to speak freely so you can truly understand their motivations and objections toward supporting your mission. 

Ideally, you’ll want to interview more than one supporter in this way. Then, you can compare answers and spot trends. Plus, the more people you interview (who are already supporting your nonprofit in the most ideal way!), the more donor personas you can create. 

You might also find that it’s helpful to create nonprofit surveys to send out to your supporters. After someone donates to your nonprofit, send them the link to a nonprofit survey in a thank you email.

When someone finishes a volunteer shift, do the same thing! Send them a survey asking for feedback in a follow-up email. 

And just like with the interviews, spot any trends among your participants. 


How to Encourage Supporters to Participate in a Research Interview? 

It might feel intimidating to ask supporters if they’d be willing to jump on a video call with you. And that might be because you’re already thinking they’re going to say no. 

And some may do so! 

But, try these two steps and see if it helps secure some interviews: 


  • Be transparent in why you want to interview them. Some might feel like they need to say no because they assume you’re going to try and get them to donate. Make sure you’re clear that that’s not the case. You’re not using this as a fundraising tactic. You’re simply using this interview as a way to better understand your ideal people. 

  • Try using incentives. Some people just need a little motivation! If you’ve already tried asking a handful of supporters and they’ve said no, then use incentives. Offer a small gift card, like a Visa gift card. If you’re trying to interview several people, then you may want to do a larger gift card and do a random giveaway. 



How Can You Use Your Nonprofit Donor Personas?

Your nonprofit donor personas are powerful tools, especially when it comes to things like:

  • Your nonprofit marketing materials
  • Your nonprofit copywriting
  • Your nonprofit communications strategy

Reference your donor personas anytime you’re trying to narrow down your messaging! It will help you create a more unified, specific approach to who you’re appealing to. 

And they’ll notice!

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