Posts tagged #Content Strategy

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.


As a writer, and as someone who works in digital media, I spend a lot of time reading online. For the last few years, it seems like it’s become harder and harder to find good content, and I think that has something to do with how quickly this industry had grown, as well as with the amount of media that has moved from print to digital.

It seems like some of the people managing blogs just want to get the most clickable content out there with minimal effort, leading to headlines like these:

“Lose 5 Inches of Belly Fat With This One Weird Trick”

“Find Out Why Dietitians Hate This Arkansas Mom!!”

And “How ______ Kardashian Lost the Weight in Just 4 Weeks!”

These (mostly made up) headlines are exaggerated examples of click bait, flashy headlines  promising to open your eyes to previously unknown wonders, only to lead to a nonsense post with little to no information.

I was starting to wonder if we, as readers and publishers alike, were really going to let media get that bad. Then I came across this article and its accompanying infographic: “The Internet's Most-Read Stories, All In One Chart.”

According to the folks at Fast Company, your internet readers are interested in “More than just cats and Kim Kardashian”:

It turns out that the most-shared articles aren’t fluffy clickbait. Generally, they're pieces that focus on grander themes: kids ("Schools Fail to Train Kids"), extreme wealth and poverty ("The World’s Poorest President," "The Rich Alarmed by Homeless Jesus"), self-improvement ("What Mentally Strong People Avoid," "How Not to Say the Wrong Thing"), God ("Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God"), and death ("Dying on Your Own Terms," "Unmournable Bodies: Those We Kill Unknowingly"). Only some of the most universal aspects of human experience.

The visualization also reveals what types of storytelling are most engaging. Readers shared stories about other people’s lives the most when they were told from an intimate perspective instead of with impersonal statistics.... If it's not a personal, emotionally driven story, then it's probably useful or service-y ("14 Habits That Drain Your Energy") or entertaining ("Justin Timberlake Shows Us How Dumb We Sound When We Use Hashtags").

So, it appears that click bait doesn’t really work. The most-read articles have real information and real value.  Many of them have an emotional connection, the value of which we talked about in our last blog post.

This means that to lead readers to your blog and keep them there, you should keep these things in mind:

  1. Write an eye-catching headline and content that delivers.
  2. Show your expertise by giving readers information specific to your industry. Make that information more valuable by beefing it up with your individual experience.
  3. Appeal to the human being (as opposed to Google bot, but that’s another blog post) reading your work. Hint: humans have emotions, which are tied to their experiences!
  4. Humans also (generally) have a sense of humor, so it usually doesn’t hurt to get a little goofy.

For more on the merits of well-written, informative, and engaging content, head over to Fast Company and Funders and Founders to check out the infographic in full. And if you think your business’s blog could use a little help, check out our copywriting services or give us a shout.