4 Ways to Improve Donor Personas and Boost Your Fundraising Strategies

How often have you spent weeks, even months pouring over the details of a new marketing campaign only to have it fall flat?

You were sure that you did everything right.

Even after the monumental effort your team invested in collecting data, doing research and planning, while working against a tight deadline, the results you had hoped for never materialized.

It’s a nonprofit marketer’s worst nightmare.


Year after year, campaign after campaign, nonprofits find themselves asking the same old question; why aren’t we seeing better returns on our marketing campaigns?

The culprit could be your donor personas.

How can you make sure that the right donor prospects find your site and like what they see when they land there?

Donor personas, which are semi-fictional, representations of your ideal donors, based on real data and some select educated speculation about demographics, behavior patterns, motivations and goals, help every nonprofit visualize the ideal donor they are trying to attract.

Personas are the building blocks of your marketing campaigns. 

Having a deep understanding of your personas is critical to driving content creation, donor acquisition and retention.

Donor personas are critical at every stage of the nonprofit inbound methodology. 

You’re not trying to attract any strangers to your website, you want to attract the right strangers.

Those who are interested in your cause and want to support it.

When you use personas to inform every part of your marketing strategy, you tailor your decisions to the preferences of your ideal donors.

Boardview, a MarTech Agency reports that companies who use a set of detailed personas are likely to exceed revenue goals and generate higher quality leads. 

It goes without saying that personas are critical to nonprofit marketing performance.

If you find that you aren’t reaching the right audience, or your marketing results are falling short of your goals here are 4 ways to make your personas more effective;

1. Include consumer technographic information; technographics are tools and technologies consumers use in everyday life. Since 1997 Forrester has surveyed more than 3 million households worldwide to assess the impact of technology on consumers’ attitudes, behaviors and expectations. Knowing the technology that your donor prospects use can give you invaluable insight in formulating content that will best display on tools like smart phones, i-pads, radio, online TV, social media, smart speakers and online shopping venues.

2. Use empirical data; all marketers have their own biases. These biases can influence your thinking when you’re crafting donor personas. If all else fails, survey your current donors and ask others at your organization to check your work. First try asking yourself the following questions to eliminate those biases;

  • Do I have evidence to support each assertion?
  •  If a donor read this profile of themselves would they agree? 
  • If my development team read this donor profile would they agree?
  • Do I overstate the need to donate to my organizations cause?

3. Continue to enhance: according to HubSpot, it’s a good idea to revisit your personas every 6 months. Data changes, trends fade, and consumer habits evolve as technology advances and it’s important to take these changes into account. Keep track of donation motivators, your donors aren’t static, and neither are your personas.

4. Consider motivation; in an excerpt from the second edition of her book Over Goal! What You Must Know to Excel at Fundraising Today by Kay Sprinkel Grace, GuideStar reports that donors are motivated by connection, concern and capacity. Have you included these factors in your personas development? This information is critical. Without it you won’t truly understand them.

Donor personas are essential to marketing.

But only if they are created correctly and aren’t neglected.

Without that basic understanding of your ideal donor, your content won’t attract the right prospects and your donor acquisition and retention efforts will fall short.

Nonprofits are competing for donor interest and donor dollars and need to implement an effective marketing strategy to truly stand out.

This is where marketing comes in.

To get a head start on your competition download our eGuide entitled 10 Questions to Ask Your Marketing Team About Donor Acquisition Strategies.

You can download it here.