Donor personas are semi-fictional portrayals of the people you expect to donate to your nonprofit.  They allow you to personify your target market by creating a profile that includes a deeper level of demographic and psychographic details.  You can give your personas names and faces to help you really bring the personas to life and help you connect with them when creating new marketing and fundraising messages.  You’ll likely have several donor personas that represent your donor-base.  For example, if your nonprofit has both mass market and major donors, you could have personas for each.  The strongest donor personas are based on market research as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.). If you are new to personas, start small – you can always develop more later on. 

Now, let’s check out how to create your donor persona!

Elements of Your Donor Persona

There are a few things to focus on when creating your ideal donor persona, including:

  1. Donor demographics. The first step in solidifying your ideal donor persona is to get clear on exactly who your ideal donor is and define their demographic profile, including:
    1. Age
    1. Gender
    1. Ethnicity
    1. Income
    1. Homeowner/renter
    1. Marital status
    1. Geographic location
    1. Occupation
    1. Education level
    1. Etc.
  2. Donor psychographics. The next step is to define the psychographics of your ideal donor.  Psychographics focus on attitudes, aspirations, interests, lifestyle and other psychological criteria and help explain why donors give to your nonprofit and their motivation for giving. Psychographics include things like:
    1. Beliefs and opinions
    1. Aspirations, goals, dreams, and wishes
    1. Interests & hobbies (travel, cooking, reading, TV shows they watch)
    1. Personal Values
  3. Goals & Challenges.  Identify the goals and challenges of your ideal donor.  For example, if your creating a donor persona for a young professional that is just getting started in their career, then their goal could be that they want to increase their financial support to your nonprofit.  A challenge could be that their expendable income is limited.  When you are defining your goals and challenges, it is helpful to list out real quotes that you have heard from donors.  You can get these quotes from surveys, donor interviews, etc.  Having the quotes provides you with invaluable insights that you can use to craft your persona.
  4. Define How Your Nonprofit Can Help.  In this step you want to define what your nonprofit can do to help the donor achieve their goals and overcome their challenges.  In the case above, it could be to offer up peer-to-peer fundraising opportunities, which allows the donor to raise funds from their family and friends without having to make a big gift.
  5. Common Objections.  Write out the common objections you hear from donors.  In the case above it could be that the donor wants to give more but has limited financial resources. 
  6. Marketing Message.  Describe the solution to your ideal donor.  The marketing message should describe how you would sell your solution to your donor. 

Where to Gather Information for Your Donor Persona

Now that we have walked through the steps of how to create a donor persona, let’s talk about where to get the market research you need to create the persona.  The good news is that you probably already have most of this information!

  1. Review your internal data. Start by reviewing your online sources such as Google Analytics and Social Media analytics.  For example, if you have a Facebook page, you can review the demographics of the people that follow your page.  Other sources you should reviews are CRM data that you have gathered about your donors. 
  2. Send a survey. Surveys are a great way to collect psychographic data you need.  When developing the survey, be sure to include open-ended questions to help answer the questions that you want.  Send the survey to current donors and include a question to see if they would be interested in you following up with them to ask more detailed questions.  This is also a great donor stewardship strategy as it helps bring them closer to your mission. 
  3. One-on-One donor interviews.  Use one-on-one calls with some of your donors to learn more about them. Leverage this opportunity to let them know how much you appreciate their support and that you’d like their help to create a donor persona.  In your interviews, consider asking more personal questions than you can in a survey, including:
  4. What would you say to others who aren’t sure if they should donate?
  5. How do you think we’re different from others?
  6. What are some ways we could improve the donor experience?

Use Your Donor Persona to Make Your Marketing More Effective

After you create your donor persona, it’s time to put it to work to help make your marketing and fundraising more effective.  Here are some ways it can help you in your marketing:

  1. Improve your content development – When writing content (social media posts, blogs, website, etc.) you can craft the messaging to speak directly to your ideal donor persona. 
  2. Create eye-catching visual design – Similar to how your messaging should speak to your ideal donor persona, your visual content (photos, fonts, layouts, etc.) should appeal to this audience.  Here is a tool you can use to help you develop content.
  3. Strong segmentation and targeting – Leverage your donor persona in your digital marketing (paid ads, social media ads, etc) and email marketing.
  4. Choose the right marketing channels –   Choose the right marketing channels.  If your ideal donor is a Gen Z, then you will probably have better results advertising on social media than sending them a direct mail appeal. 


Creating a donor persona can help you better connect with your donors and save you time, money, and drive long-term success.  Contact us if you have any questions.

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Market Me Consulting is a consulting firm that develops marketing, strategy, and fundraising solutions for nonprofits and socially conscious small businesses.  We combine analytics with creativity to build strategies, campaigns, and programs that help our clients achieve their goals.  With over 15 years of experience in driving results for nonprofits, universities, local governments, and small businesses, our team has the skills and experiences to deliver results for our clients.