4 Ways to Gather Insights Needed for Your Donor Personas

Emmaus House Volunteers by Green Gate

The almighty donor persona is the cornerstone for any development team’s action plan. The donor persona is a well-rounded profile of your non-profit’s ideal contributor. Each donor persona should include a list of their likes and dislikes, their habits, what type of media they follow. In marketing speak: a donor persona is a document that describes your target audience.

Once you create your donor personas (yes, you can have more than one type of person you’d like to create a donor relationship with), these profiles should influence all of your donor communication and marketing strategies. When you leverage donor personas it allows you to communicate relevant and timely information with the people who are most valuable to your cause. Developing donor personas helps you get to know your audience. When creating any kind of communication email, brochure, ask letter, donation website, or verbal appeals it is best to know your audience and craft what you say especially for them.

How can you learn about your donors likes and dislikes, motivations and challenges? Below are 4 ways to do the research and gather data to build the best donor persona for your organization.

1. Interview staff

Tapping into your internal team responsible for building relationships with high-value donors is a great way to learn more about current and potential donors. Your colleagues are on the frontline when it comes to donor relations, and they’ll have the best understanding of what prompts those high-value donors to continue with their contributions.

When reaching out, other important questions to ask your staff include: What are the demographics of our high-value donors? And, what’s our current process for procuring more high-value clients?

2. Interview donors

Talking directly with a few current donors will help you gain valuable information about your donor base. Interview them about when and how they donate, as well as why they made their donation in the first place. If they are a recurring donor, why do they keep coming back? And if they donated once and never again, ask them why.   Personal interviews allow you to capture the kind of rich feedback that can’t be obtained from co-workers, data mining or surveys.

And when you better understand the ways in which these donors are giving – or not giving – you can curate better donor experiences.

3. Mine data

Do you have a great Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool or donor database? Dig into that data to uncover insights about your donors. If a good CRM system is in place, you’ll discover who the most valuable donors are based on historical data. Then, you can begin to tailor your donor acquisition activities to prospective  donors with the same traits.. You’ll also want to look at  how different prospects entered the “donor journey”, so that you can allocate more of your resources to those touch points that were successful, and less to those that weren’t.

4. Survey donors

Send a survey to your entire donor base to collect feedback insights your nonprofit might have overlooked or neglected before.

A good way to construct and conduct a survey is through Survey Monkey. This tool is a great value and is extremely user-friendly. When formatting the survey consider asking open-ended questions with the ability for people to type a response versus multiple choice or scaled answers. Free-response fields allow donors to honestly express themselves. It will also give you color commentary you might not be able to glean through data mining, which is really helpful in building a persona.

Keep in mind, the number of people who  respond to your survey can vary, so don’t be disheartened if your response rate is just 10-15%. That’sactually pretty typical. Also, before you send out a survey, make sure you’re prepared to read, digest, and synthesize all the information you gather from it.

All of these are great ways to begin developing your donor persona/s, but to develop the best persona/s, it’s wise to use multiple tools and cross reference your results to look for trends.

Ready to get started? We’ve created some questions to help you get started on building your own donor personas. Checkout our development team and donor survey questions here.

Posted on May 27, 2016 .