Creating Donor Personas for Your Non-Profit

Raise more money by understanding your donor types

One of the hardest things to do is write a fundraising message to someone you don’t know. That’s where developing donor personas can help you. Donor personas are just an imaginary profile of how a typical donor thinks, what they value, and how they want to interact with your organization. Personas make it easy to keep your donor in mind when you’re developing events, emails, and campaigns. 


The best news about donor personas? There’s no exact right way to do it. You can develop personas in whatever way is most helpful to you. We’ve compiled some of the best advice out there to get you started. 


Do your research 

A persona is a composite profile of your ideal supporter. The best way to get started is to survey and interview your current donors: find out why they give, what resonates about your organization, and how they understand their impact. This Classy blog provides questions and tips to keep in mind as you develop your personas.


Summarize your findings for the whole team

We usually give each person a fake name, a picture, and job to help paint a picture of this person, but that’s not the most important part. In this article from CXL, they outline some key components of a persona including obstacles, personal goals, and mindset. This format will help everyone at your organization understand your donors’ motivations. (PS this also works great for volunteers!) HubSpot has a free persona template to get you started.


Use donor personas to build engagement

Donors are more than a source of revenue; they are people with goals and ambitions. Matt Clark’s ebook, Persona-based Marketing, focuses on a relationship-building approach that can lead to deeper engagement with your donors, providing a helpful engagement checklist to think through to give donors tools to take action and support your cause.


Segment your donors for a more personal approach

Giving your donors information they want at the time exactly when they need it makes them feel engaged and, in turn, makes them want to support you. You can build personas around donor likes, dislikes, passions, or motivations. Hubspot provides a list of 10 ways to segment your donors to develop custom strategies and messaging for more effective communications ultimately.


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