Illustration of a group of people with several key individuals circled.

Does This Sound Like You?

We’ve got some pretty amazing clients. As professionals in development, marketing and advancement, they know their target audiences. They’ve spent countless hours engaging with them. But often our clients haven’t taken the time to describe and document their supporters in a way that helps their whole team’s efforts. Their donor and stakeholder information is stuck in their head. Does this sound familiar?

If so, we’ve got a plan (actually a workbook) to help you get your target audience out of your head and into your team’s hands. You want everyone to operate from the same page. Your entire organization needs to know and understand your donors, clients, and partners to reach your fundraising and impact goals. Start now and download our workbook: Developing Your Nonprofit Brand and then follow our new blog series to help you complete it.

Diving Into the Workbook

The first page of the workbook asks you to record your mission, values and vision statements. It’s helpful to keep them top of mind when working through the exercises.

Who is Your Target Audience?

Turn to page 2 of the workbook, “Who is Your Target Audience?”

You can’t appeal to everyone and some groups are inherently more important than others.  So you need to identify who you’re targeting and which groups to prioritize. These audiences are the ones who support the goals of your organization.

And while it’s obvious to include donors and clients here, “partners” may be an unfamiliar target audience for you. It’s important to include them because your supporters like to see collaboration and they don’t like to see inefficiencies or overlapping missions. They want to understand how you are different from other organizations and who you collaborate with and why. If you want more in depth information about how to determine your target audience I have a helpful link below.

Your Donor and Client Personas

Moving on to page 3 of the workbook. Once you’ve established target audiences, it’s time to get to work building your personas. Personas are research-based, but fictionalized versions of your primary supporters. Personas help you understand what motivates your target audiences. They help you figure out how to inspire donors to give and how to better serve your clients.

I like how managing editor at, Elizabeth Chung, describes donor personas (a link to her article is below):

“Donor personas are archetypes of your ideal donors. Based on real data about your current and potential donor base—including demographics, behavior patterns, goals, interests, and concerns—these profiles illustrate the types of people with whom your organization wants to engage.”

Two Persona Examples

We’ve created an example donor for the Child Advocates of Silicon Valley,* a regional group that is part of a national child advocates network. They pair children in the foster care system with court appointed volunteers. We made up a name, some demographics, and a story about who this person is to show how to construct a persona.

Page 5 of the workbook has an example of a client for the YWCA of San Francisco and Marin’s Fifty+ Program*. This particular program of the YWCA helps women over 50 to re-enter the job market.

Creating personas allows you to tailor your marketing efforts. Share them with your creative team to keep your content consistent so it’s as direct and creative as possible. You may need to do more than 1 of each, because you may have several types of donors and clients.

It’ll take some time to complete your personas, but it’s worth it. Set aside some time to complete your target audience and persona pages in the next two weeks. Part 2 of our “Developing Your Nonprofit Brand” blog series will walk you through auditing your brand.

Helpful links

Determining Your Nonprofit’s Target Audience

How to Create Donor Personas

*While these are actual organizations, The Child Advocates of the Silicon Valley and the YWCA of San Francisco and Marin case studies were made up for the purpose of this exercise. We studied their websites and created personas based on observations not actual research.