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Your Complete Guide to Donor Personas

Crowdfunding Advisors

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Your Complete Guide to Donor Personas

Crowdfunding Advisors, FundRazr Team

Helping our community get to the next level of crowdfunding success

Planning your campaign is key to starting a successful fundraiser. Unlike other pursuits, fundraisers have different nuances and hurdles that seem intimidating. For example, some organizers find gaining support and collecting funds from users tricky. But the good thing is that many fundraisers have already been set up and have amassed plenty of support. That also means we’re off to a great start in creating a winning fundraiser.

The common denominator among all these fundraisers is coming up with a clear campaign, including creating a donor persona.

What is a Donor Persona

A donor persona is a fictional representation of the ideal donor your nonprofit would like to target for support for your fundraiser. The persona isn’t only based on what you think on a whim–it must be based on data on the donor base. These include the demographics, goals, concerns, interests, and behavior. A donor persona is the type of audience your organization aims to engage with.

A donor persona allows you to better understand your donors and prospective donors. Creating a donor persona makes it easier for you to tailor your content, messaging, and even SEO campaign management to meet the specific needs, behaviors and concerns of your target audience.

Creating a defined donor persona allows you to create a more effective campaign with greater appeal to your donors. You’d be able to develop the right content and messaging strategy to connect with your ideal donors and convert them into active supporters of your nonprofit. 

Planning your campaign more efficiently will also give you higher funding and retention from your current donors, especially since 80% of your funds will come from only 20% of your current donors. For large organizations, 95% of their funding comes from only 5% of donors. If your nonprofit has done your donor persona right, you will be able to attract more ideal donors.

How can you create a donor persona?

Different donor personas vary per organization, so it’s best to have them tailored according to your fundraiser. There are different types of donor personas, but let’s discuss how you can create one for now. 

Here are some tips for creating an informative donor persona:

1. Research past donation history

Include the amount of your donor’s past donation in the donor persona you’re preparing–their donation history serves as the quantitative parameter of what makes them “ideal”. Based on their donations in your fundraiser, you can measure their engagement with your nonprofit. It’s from here where you can create more characterizations based on their demographic. 

You may also assess the positive practices from your campaign that made them donate such an amount or even the things you need to improve on. Much like studying consumer behavior in marketing, assessing donation history will give you clues on campaign strategies that make your donors hop on board. 

Donor persona template

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The picture above shows an example of a donor persona. Aside from showing the donor’s demographic data, the “Maureen” persona also indicates their past donation history. This type of persona will help your organization create fundraising campaigns that run during the donor’s donation window.

2. Include demographic characteristics

When marketing your brand online, you need to find out your audience’s demographics first. The same applies if you want a successful fundraising campaign. Characterizing the demographics of your donors is essential since it allows you to design the messaging of your fundraiser according to their interests. Some tools, such as HubSpot, SEMRush, or Venngage, can help you create a sound donor persona based on demographics.

Being specific with the demographics of your donor persona will give you an idea about who your donors are. It allows you to have a more in-depth understanding of them. That will help you plan content donors see as relevant in their daily lives.

According to The Modern Nonprofit, you need to focus on your donors’ age, gender, income bracket, location, ethnicity, education, and industry for more effective campaigns. Once you’ve put together this data set, you can start doing interviews and research to put your characterizations to the test.

donor persona template

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As a mid-level donor, “Mary” does not just give money to the nonprofit; she also participates in the organization’s activities. She is also an affluent full-time executive dedicated to liberal causes; however, she is also fussy about the causes she supports.

This type of profile will help your nonprofit create fundraising content that speaks to her. For example, if the organization partners with a well-known liberal nonprofit, she will be more inclined to donate to the project than one that involves a conservative organization. 

3. Use your current data

Creating donor personas is about combining your assumptions about your donors based on your data and researching more to verify those assumptions and add more data. You can start sifting through your current donors to know more about what your ideal donors are like. 

Interview your current donors to know the types of donors that fall within their demographics or seem like them. That will then allow you to know other types of donors, which will give you more ideas to tailor-fit your campaigns for each of them. 

Here are some of the questions you should ask:

  • How did donors discover your nonprofit? This lets you know where you can reach your donors most effectively. 
  • What do they look for in a fundraiser to support it? This allows you to set your priorities when marketing your fundraiser.
  • What are their interests or hobbies? This gives you an idea for future fundraising events and engagement activities.
  • What inspired them to support your fundraiser?

Your donor persona should also contain information about their preferred communication style, goals, advocacies, and objections. These are data points that you can determine by analyzing your previous campaigns and determining donors’ responses to them. For example, would they rather receive professional emails, text messages, or social media updates? Knowing your prospective donors’ preferred channels will help you create more effective outreach campaigns.

4. Possible objections to your cause

No organization and fundraiser is perfect, but actively ironing out these imperfections or hurdles ahead of time will make your campaigns more effective. When building your fundraiser, you might want to make adjustments to appeal to your broader donor base. Define the possible objections donors might have to your cause. That allows you to develop a plan to have donors feel resolved about those objections. 

These objections will also come from the data you have – that might be related to their personal lives, priorities, and career goals. They might seem like a dead-end at first, but pointing these out while creating your donor persona can help you gain more donors and improve retention. As long as you become more creative with your messaging and the options you have for your donors, they will feel more at ease to support your nonprofit and become a donor.

FundRazr donor persona template

Here’s an example of a donor persona that indicates challenges that a fundraiser may encounter when trying to ask for donations. In this case, “Grace” might not be receptive to digital means of communication, which means social media campaigns might not be effective with her, while direct mail might produce results. 

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Knowing your potential donors’ pain points will help you create fundraising strategies that will effectively reach them and convince them that they will be donating to a cause that cares for both its beneficiaries’ and donors’ welfare.

Keeping your donors updated about your fundraiser with a reliable email marketing service will significantly help donor retention and expansion. Donors with objections or apprehensions about your nonprofit may support your cause if they receive updates about the adjustments you’ve made.

5. Include how they use their social network

When building a profile of your donor persona, defining those you interact with on social media will make you go a long way. Delve deeper into how these donor personas engage with you on social media, what platform they are more engaged in, when, and what else they engage with. 

The social media insights you have will help you identify different donor behavior. It’s also important to note that social media usage is related to the demographics of your donor persona. Here are some of the tools you can use:

Facebook Audience Insights

Your Facebook Insights tool shows you the picture of your audience’s lifestyle–their age, income, interests, education, and more. You may include these details in your donor persona.

Twitter Analytics

The Twitter Analytics tool also shows your audiences’ interests according to their demographics. You can compare this with other social media data. It will confirm their interests and tell you which platform you prefer. These numbers will also show audiences who’ve seen your tweets but haven’t followed you. 

Instagram Insights

While we normally don’t associate Instagram with nonprofits, you can also use an Instagram Business account for your nonprofit to generate more awareness and increase engagement.

Business Instagram accounts allow you to see your reach, impressions, website clicks, etc. You can also see how audiences discover your posts in the discovery section. These social media tools will help you review your audience’s engagement with your socials. These tools help you give a detailed report of your audiences’ qualitative and quantitative activity with your fundraiser.

Wrapping Up

Donor personas help you get to know your audiences more. They allow you to engage better with your donors and feel more connected with them, resulting in conversions and retention.

When creating your donor persona, you should study and include donation history and demographic characteristics. Review your current data as well. Point out possible objections and social media engagements.

Follow these tips and you’ll develop informative donor personas. In the end, you can boost your fundraiser and get support for your nonprofit. Check out Fundrazr.com to start your funding.

Matt Diggity is a search engine optimization expert and the founder and CEO of Diggity Marketing, The Search Initiative, Authority Builders, and LeadSpring LLC. He is also the host of the Chiang Mai SEO Conference.

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