This is the followup to the post “What are Donor Personas?” If you have not read that, read it first.
The easiest thing to do with Rachel, Joel, and Kelley is to simply drop them into the ongoing communication stream you send to everyone every month—to treat them as a mere silhouette, someone who looks just like nearly everyone else on file, not as a face with some unique identifying features.
A far better approach is to follow up their overtures of interest by initiating a few, simple communication pieces that can be highly tailored to the persona, and leveraged across everyone else who shares the same characteristic.
For example, if you were sitting down for coffee with Rachel, and she told you she had just heard about your organization but didn’t know much more than you present on your website, what would you tell her? What would be so important that you risk repeating? What would be essential for her to know beyond what the website presents?
If your path crossed with Joel’s, a recent “customer” of your organization, what would be valuable for him to know as a customer and prospective donor? Did he feel his experience was appreciated? What would have made it better? And wouldn’t you want him to know that he isn’t alone—that many others are experiencing a similar benefit?
If Kelley turned out to be a personal friend, what would you tell her the next time you met? Would you ask her a question about the content she downloaded? Perhaps you would invite her to an upcoming event where she could learn more about her area of interest.
It doesn’t take much effort to identify a handful of core personas—people who share a common relationship or experience with your organization. Those relationships and experiences offer a foundation for focused conversation—a welcome packet, an email exchange, a survey and follow-up, a video message, a phone call, or any number of other vehicles you could use to invite further engagement.
It’s hard to initiate meaningful dialogue when everyone looks like a shadow. But shine a little light on the subject, and shadows become faces with identifying features…and soon you recognize them as people who have reached out for a meaningful connection with you.
What personas are represented across your organization? Left alone, they will inevitably remain a name and address in the shadows. But with a little effort, you may discover that silhouette a lot to offer . They have a heart for what you do and are waiting to be invited into a deeper level of relationship and involvement.
A silhouette in the shadows? Or a face you recognize and appreciate—who soon becomes a friend and supporter? It’s your choice.
Contact us to learn about your organizations personas.
If your nonprofit organization is like most, you have a donor file consisting of thousands of silhouettes. You possess a handful of facts about each donor—an outline, if you will, of their faces in the form of basic contact information. Perhaps you have a few details about when they last contacted you, and how and why. At a glance, their image appears to be almost identical to nearly everyone else you have on file.
But in reality, those details are usually sufficient to recognize some core and common characteristics that could have a tremendous impact in the way you engage them. Consider three simple scenarios:
- Rachel was just added to your mailing list. Will she receive communication from you that welcomes her and shows her that you’ve noticed your new relationship?
- Joel recently benefitted from your nonprofit services (such as a recently released hospital patient, or a newly minted graduate, or a participant at a recent event). Will he hear from you in a way that endears him to your organization as a customer and potential donor?
- Kelley registered on your website last night to gain access to “members only” content. Will you follow up with her in a way that connects with her personal interests?
Rachel, Joel and Kelley represent “personas” to your organization. A persona is defined as “a role that one assumes or displays in public or society; one’s public image or personality.”
Next, we will take a look at why it is important to create donor personas.
An effective integrated approach to fundraising will engage prospects, increase donor response, and raise revenue, while strengthening your brand across relevant communication channels.
When your organization employs an integrated strategy, you can:
- Identify your best donors and prospects. By tracking donor behavior and preferences, you can better engage your organization’s most dedicated donors and most promising prospects, while also identifying those who should be “blessed and released.”
- Cultivate deeper, more relevant relationships. Talking to donor segments in light of what you know about them will encourage their sense of connection to your organization. Continually refining this information will help increase your ability to personalize each message.
- Lower costs and reduce lost opportunities. Precious resources are wasted while trying to gain or reactivate disinterested prospects and past donors. An integrated strategy increases fundraising effectiveness by allowing resources to be directed where they will have the greatest impact and provide maximum donor engagement through targeted messaging in thoughtfully chosen channels.
- Reduce donor frustration. Knowing when and how your donors prefer to be solicited can greatly improve their response rate to your requests. Creating an intuitive way for them to respond is also an important part of the process.
- Increase the lifetime value of donors. Successful integrated fundraising will provide the highest rate of return over the life cycle of most supporters. By focusing on and measuring lifetime value, you seek to develop long-term relationships with donors while removing the temptation to use flashy tactics that may contribute only short-term value and detract from the overall strategy.
- Empower supporters to promote your cause. Using the most current technology can give your most enthusiastic supporters a way to spread your message and mission to their networks and their friends’ networks, thereby reinforcing your cross-channel strategy and maximizing your return.