Figure Out Donor Persona To Personalize The Ask

July 21, 2017 - 8 minutes read

How well do you know your donors?

Nonprofits always stress on donor retention over acquisition, and for good reason. Holding on to your existing donor base is a leeway into discovering more people with aligned interests.

Your regular donors will help you form an idea about the kind of people who are more likely to donate. So you can specify your approach for any new prospects. You could provide your ground volunteers with scripts and even use social media posts to gain common ground with the community.

donor persona

For starters, though, you have to figure out the persona of the donor you seek. This is no simple task. Each of your donors is probably from a different background and came on board through a different route. The task at hand is to look at what aligns these people besides support for your cause.

What you know about your donor base is enough to form your donor persona. So let’s get started.

Based on the acquisition process

A modern nonprofit has various ways of being discovered. Your nonprofit too must have laid out several tracks for interested people to follow before donating to the cause. The path followed by the donor says a lot about them.

A donor who started off volunteering for the cause would be inclined to being active. So you could ask them to take up responsibilities when an event comes up. Someone who discovered your website or joined a social media community would be likely to spread the word about your campaign online. Maybe you hooked their attention at an event they attended. It could be communication with a volunteer or with one of their peers who is an existing donor.

All these are pointers toward the type of donor they are.

Based on the way they are engaged

The way a donor responds to your communication efforts are also useful clues about their persona. People with similar interests would also be engaged through the same medium.

So someone who shares and responds to your posts on social media would lead you to others in their network who discover and engage with your online content. A donor who checks and replies to email updates are likely to click on an online fundraiser. On the other hand, a donor who first came on board at an event would be willing to join the next one. Maybe you could ask them to take up a bigger responsibility this time.

Based on the generation

The medium of approach, too, factors in when it comes to the donor’s decision. Each generation aged with different communication channels and this impacts how they react to your message.

So a donor from the silent generation would be more responsive to direct communication through their peers or volunteers. A baby boomer may be getting used to the digital age but their chances of donating are higher through written cheques or at an event. Generation X and millennials are known to prefer online communication, having quickly adopted these new methods, so an online fundraiser will see more traction from donors of these generations.

What about Generation Z?

Sure they are still up and coming youngsters who are not high on a nonprofit’s priorities. However, this generation is more taken toward philanthropic causes and will likely be engaged through new media better than the older demographic. It is good to plan ahead.

Based on personal interest

Also vital is to understand why the donor donates.This is something personal for every donor so you have to look at what the donor gets out of it.

A donor who attends events or participates in the online community would be interested in networking with like-minded people. Someone who subscribes to your newsletter or even follows related blogs and sites may be seeking information about the issues. Then there are those who are fuelled by their desire to do good.

Based on their communication preference

However you acquired the donors, they are best engaged through the medium they choose to stay in touch through. When you approach them using their preferred communication channel, your chances of getting positive responses bumps up.

A donor may have come on board at a fundraiser, but if they prefer a phone conversation over email updates, it is best to drop them a line directly for the ask. Others would rather receive direct mail to their door or have a talk with a volunteer. If they are an active Facebook user, you should take that into account as well.

Based on how active they are

The level of activity also changes for each medium. For the ones who participate online, an active user would like and reply to community posts on a regular basis. The same cannot be said for a donor who comes through at events you organize.

Donors who prefer ground activity are dependant on time, location, their own schedule and various factors. An active donor online may be unresponsive of invites to join a ground campaign. These factors are important to understand the persona of different donors.

Based on their preferred way to donate

The donor’s method of giving also says a lot about their persona. It shows their trust which is a way to grasp how their mind works.

An online donor is open to digital operations and modern fundraising campaigns. They would also participate in any new channel that comes up. Donors who contribute at events are inclined to taking social proof into account in their decisions. Those who donate through direct mail probably hold on to their roots. So your approach should be grounded in a traditional structure that they are comfortable in.

Forming personas of your various donors is a step toward running a personalized campaign. You can take their preferences into account and establish better bonds with your existing donors. You also gain knowledge about what leads them to donate. This is particularly helpful in getting new donors on board. Update your donor list with this information and make it easy for your volunteers to filter through your donor profiles. Through this, you empower them when they set about making the ask.

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