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5 Types of Donor Personas Your Nonprofit Should Know About

Jasmine LeBlanc 10/4/19 7:30 AM

There are many different types of people who donate to nonprofits.

And in order to maximize your donor base, it's important for your nonprofit to understand the different donor personas and hone in on the ones that best align with your nonprofit's financial needs.

This article will help you do just that!

Stay tuned as we uncover the five key donor personas and explain the goals they best align with so you can determine which ones your nonprofit needs.

5 Important Types of Donor Personas

All of these types of donor personas are valuable to nonprofits, whether they are contributing their time or finances. Read through these and determine which one(s) are most valuable to your nonprofit’s goals.


1. One-time donor persona

A one-time donor persona is someone who has only contributed financially to your nonprofit once or very infrequently. This type of donor is generally new to hearing about your organization and perhaps doesn’t donate frequently or ever.

A common goal for one-time donor personas is to convert them over to becoming frequent donors. To do this, it’s essential to determine how your one-time donors found out about your cause and what convinced them to make a donation.

For example, if they clicked through to your website from a Facebook ad, then you would know to continue to invest in that channel to grab their attention and to attract more people like them.


2. Large-gift donor persona

Donors who make large financial contributions are obviously very valuable to any nonprofit. However, as you can imagine, they are not the easiest to attract to your cause.

If your goal is to continue to attract large-gift donors to your nonprofit, then you’ll need to figure out what they look for in a nonprofit prior to donating. For example, financial transparency is very important to most donors because they want to know how their money is used. This could very well be a deciding factor for large-gift donors.

If you have had the luck of already drawing in some large-gift donors, then you have the upper hand of being able to analyze their data to better grasp the idea of what made them want to donate a substantial amount.

Since these donors are such valuable contributors, be prepared to put a lot of focus on them so that you can maintain the ones you do have and attract others like them. Before you commit to focusing on this persona, ask the question, “Would my nonprofit benefit more from a few large-gift donations a year or a lot of frequent smaller-gift donations throughout the year?”

3. Frequent donor persona

If you picked the latter in the question above, then you want to focus on the donor who makes recurring donations regularly. You can always count on this type of donor to participate in your fundraisers. Typically, this persona likes to stay up-to-date with what your nonprofit is doing because they truly believe in your nonprofit’s mission.

To keep attracting this type of persona, you need to uncover what makes them completely support your nonprofit’s mission. This will help you create targeted content in the future to appeal to other potential donors who have similar interests.

Since this persona is so involved in your organization, it’s best to send them success stories, thank them for their donation every time, and to be transparent with your financial reports to keep them in the loop and wanting to give back to your cause.


4. Corporate sponsor donor persona

Now that we’ve covered the different types of individual donors, let’s talk about corporate sponsors. The reason that they are separate from your other personas is that they have a different motive to partner with your cause than an individual does.

This means that your nonprofit is going to have to showcase different content that appeals more to a corporate sponsor. A business’s main reason to partner with a nonprofit is to show off their philanthropic efforts, but also to raise awareness about their business.

More than likely, a company would be interested in what kind of people you attract to your event to see if that is the particular demographic that their business targets as well. This means they will most likely scroll through photo galleries of your past events, read your blog posts, etc.

5. Volunteer persona

Those who donate their time to your nonprofit are equally as valuable to those who contribute financially. However, like the corporate sponsor persona, the volunteer persona has different motives than a traditional donor.

For example, you may have some volunteers that help your cause because they truly enjoy donating their time to your organization. At the same time, you may also have people volunteering because they need to fulfill a requirement for school or their job.

Find out which type of volunteer is in your nonprofit's best interest and work on creating content accordingly. For instance, if your nonprofit gets more help from volunteers who need to earn some type of credit, then you should actively share volunteer schedules on your website, social media, and email marketing while mentioning that it's great for individuals who are looking to fulfill credit for school or work. When people are given that type of information versus them having to spend time researching, then they are more likely to volunteer for your organization.

Which donor persona types fit in your marketing strategy?

After reading this article you may think that your organization can benefit from all of these different types of personas.

While that may be the case, be sure to start out by targeting the one that would be the most valuable.

I know you're likely saying, "shouldn't I try to reach the most people possible?"

It may seem counterintuitive, but by narrowing down to the one to two personas that best fit your organization's goals will actually help you reach more of the right fit donors at the right time.

Ultimately, helping you hit your goals way faster than blanketing your marketing to the masses.


Not sure where to start? Don’t worry!

We’ve got you covered. Download our free donor persona template and get started today. You can also download our free sales prospecting guide to further boost your chances of conversion!