The ultimate guide to define your online donor target audience

October 27, 2023

Do you need help with a low online donation conversation rate? Maybe you’re just reaching out to the wrong people. In this article, you’ll learn how to define your donor target audience, build meaningful connections, and reach your fundraising goals. (Hey, if you win, humanity wins.)

How do you know that you're reaching out to the wrong audience?

Well, if you caught yourself:

  • Stuck on content creation
  • Low newsletter open rates
  • Paying too much for social media campaigns with little outcome

…then you should review to whom you're sending your fundraising campaigns. Targeting the wrong people results in low engagement and conversion rates and slows your fundraising.

By defining your precise audience, you can:

  • Craft more meaningful content on channels your donors use
  • Increase your donor retention
  • Get a higher engagement rate

So, keep reading as we share the audience research process and donor profile template that helped our clients to increase their online donations by +20%.

Donors are the lifeblood of your organization, and with them, you will be able to achieve your goals and make an impact.

But how do you find suitable donors for your cause online? How could you reach out to them effectively and persuade them to support you?

That's where an ideal donor profile (IDP) comes in handy. An IDP is a representative description of your ideal online donor. Why do you need it? Well, the better you know them, the more value you will create for them, and the more you will receive back. Plain and simple.

1 Research your (existing) online donors

Check out the list of your current online donors and see which ones:

  • Bring you the most donations
  • Gain the most value from you (!)
  • Have been the longest with you

Why? Because if they are your best donors, it’s natural that you want more of them!

Networking is vital if you don’t have online donors or want to reach a new audience. Make a list of potential donors, reach out to them on LinkedIn, and verify the following:

  • The struggles they might be facing donating to you
  • How they could benefit directly or indirectly from the work of your organization
  • Why are they donating to you and not somewhere else?

And once you have identified the best (potential) donors, it’s time to…

2 Turn them into a representative profile

A donor profile is a detailed description of someone who represents your target audience. Even though it’s fictional, it’s based on deep research and can help you boost engagement.

Make your life easier and download this free donor profile template we created for you and follow the steps:

I. Add a profile picture

You can add a picture to your donor profile to give it a sense of realism; instead of using a graphic, use an accurate picture. If you don't want to use a photo of an existing person, you can try; this person does not exist to generate an image. Now you can add a name, age, and job title.

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Unsure about age or job title? Fill out your best guess. In the next step, we will go into detail on how to use LinkedIn Search or Google Analytics to verify your guess.

II. Add more details to the person

Remember the list of your best digital donors? Now is the time to find out more about them. Use the LinkedIn search bar and type in the name of a donor. To find out what his/her daily focus is, you can go to "activities" and look at which posts the person interacts with most. Maybe the person even commented on a topic that is close to your organization's cause. This goes into "cares about".

Now redo this step for a few other donors and you quickly going to find similarities.

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LinkedIn Search Bar

If you want to go the extra mile, check out Facebook groups or even reach out to donors via dm with a personal thank you note.

The next thing you want to research is demographics, such as age, location, and gender. Why? You would talk to people differently if they are from the boomer generation or GenZ. The same goes for content creation.

A good tool for that is Google Analytics. Take your e.g. top three blog entries and take a look at the demographics.

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Google Analytics

III. Goals & Wishes

The main difference between a goal and a wish is that a goal is measurable. A goal of your ideal donor could be "having zero-waste household until 2025" wheres a wish could be "learning more about the current state in turkey."

The more you help your donors reaching their goals and fulfilling their wishes the more value create for them.

IV. How they heard about your organization

You can make better content and share it more effectively if you know how donors learned about you. You can also contact them in the way they like best, such as online content (inbound) or direct messages (outbound). This will make them more willing to interact with you. Try to be as precise as possible like "clicked on behind-the-scenes-footage about our project XYZ in her instagram feed" instead of "social media".

V. Road to donate

At this point you already now how they heard about you, now it's time to look at steps they need to take to actually donate. You can start off, by trying to donate yourself and note the steps you need to take to finish it.

Furthermore you can use addtional sources of information too enrich your data:

  • Thinking-A-Loud Tests
  • Website Trackers
  • Engangement in relevant online/offline communities
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VI. What could hold them back

Understanding the barriers that prevent your donors from converting is a crucial insight. Why? Because you can prepare yourself to address any objections. For instance, if someone says, it takes them too much time to donate, it could mean the checkout step (donation form) is too lenghty.

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3 Segment donors into tiers

The next step is to segment your existing donors based on their attributes. Segmentation is the process of dividing your donors into smaller groups that share similar characteristics or needs.

Segmentation can help you:

  • Identify the most profitable and loyal donors
  • Tailor your communication and offers to each segment
  • Increase your relevance and personalization
  • Improve your donor satisfaction and loyalty

For example, you can segment your existing donors into four groups based on their donation amount and frequency:

  • High-value frequent donors: These are the donors who donate large amounts regularly. They are your most loyal and profitable donors. They have a strong affinity with your cause and trust your organization. They may also be willing to become advocates or ambassadors for your organization.
  • High-value occasional donors: These are the donors who donate large amounts sporadically. They are potential loyal and profitable donors. They may have a high interest in your cause but need more engagement and nurturing to donate more frequently. They may also be influenced by external factors such as events or campaigns.
  • Low-value frequent donors: These are the donors who donate small amounts regularly. They are loyal but not very profitable donors. They may have a low income or budget but a high commitment to your cause. They may also be willing to spread the word about your organization or volunteer for your activities.
  • Low-value occasional donors: These are the donors who donate small amounts sporadically. They are neither loyal nor profitable donors. They may have a low interest or awareness of your cause or a high skepticism of your organization. They may also be influenced by external factors such as peer pressure or incentives.

4 Key Takeaways

In conclusion, defining a online donor profile helps you to clearly understand your audience’s challenges and helps you to empathize with them. With a communication approach that addresses their specific pain point, you can build a relationship with them.

Your ideal donor profile should help you to:

  • Increase donation volume and frequency
  • Reduce marketing spent
  • Identify problems in the donation process by "walking in their shoes"

and ultimately increase your online donation market share.

Once you have your donor profile, use it to:

  • Improve the donation process and build meaningful relationships.
  • "Trust and verify". If you are making an assumption try to verify it.
  • Incorporate it into your content planning and user-experience.

And remember

“If you try to appeal to everyone, you'll appeal to no one” - M.Yoda

PS: If you found it this article helpful, share it with your colleagues. And if you want to bounce off ideas shoot me a dm because if you win, humanity wins.

About the Author
Raphael Marton

Raphael is the entrepreneurial spirit behind Felloz. His roots in door-to-door fundraising led to the inception of Felloz, aimed at revolutionizing fundraising strategies.

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