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A Donor Persona: What is it and why should your nonprofit have one?

What is a Donor Persona exactly? Typically, the marketing concept is referred to as a “Buyer Persona” and it is a fictional character you create from aggregating data and building characteristics belonging to someone who is your target audience member or customer. Having a Buyer Persona helps identify who is interested in your organization so that you can target your marketing and social media efforts specifically towards them. 

The Donor Persona

Knowing what we know about the Buyer Persona, this can be an incredibly useful tool for Positive Impact Organizations!  We have transitioned the “Buyer Persona” into the “Donor Persona” which is relevant and helpful. What if there was a way for you to step into the mind of your donors and be able to speak to them in a way that feels thoughtful and unique? A Donor Persona can help you do just that! It helps you learn who your donors are, what they like, and what they care about so that you can build community around those shared passions. It is a powerful way to meet your donors where they are while also sharing content that helps them trust and get to know your organization on a deeper, personal level.

Shared passions can be a very powerful tool of connection. No one wants to follow an organization that only asks for money or posts about itself. People want to know where their donation goes and who they help. Storytelling is an important piece of making sure you reach your Donor Persona. Once you know who you’re talking to, your marketing efforts can be tailored to speak to that audience more specifically.


Donor Persona Initial Insights 

A great way to take a look at who is currently your audience: look at your Instagram insights! This option is located right on your Instagram profile, under a button labeled “Insights.”

The Digital Mountaineers Instagram profile with the Insights button circled in yellow

Once you click that button, you can customize the time frame you’d like to take a look at. You can dive into details about your Reached Audience in terms of Top Cities, Top Countries, Top Age Ranges, and Gender. You’ll be able to see which perform better: Posts or Stories and what their respective reach was. You’ll also be able to see how many folks are visiting your profile, how many are clicking the link in your bio, and how many email or call. 


Using Insights to Inform your Messaging

How will this help your messaging? Well, if your currently reaching a mostly male 45-54 age range, the story you tell might be very different from the one you’d tell if your audience was mostly female 18-24. Interests are different, even the way those two groups speak is different. If you want to make sure your audience is hearing your message, you have to meet them where they are. 

Social metrics are also a great – and completely FREE – way of charting if you are able to reach the audience you are targeting. If you want to target an older demographic, you can track weekly or monthly to see if you are in fact bringing in the donors you’d like to have by gauging the metrics. 

The way that you speak to your audience can range from fun and playful to professional and warm. People want to feel as if you are speaking right to them, they want to feel seen and creating a Donor Persona will get you one step closer to doing just that.

Below are a few examples of companies who most likely have very strong Buyer/Donor Persona’s that we just LOVE. They have radically different sized audience and they all talk to their audiences in direct and specific ways. 



Cisco is an information tech company, which admittedly, isn’t a terribly interesting topic to discuss on social media. They are aware of this and created a profile called WeAreCisco. It is all about focusing on who works at Cisco, their family life, and most importantly, their pets! When you scroll on their page, doesn’t Cisco look like a fun, inclusive, family oriented place to work? On a subconscious level, this helps people trust the brand. Building trust with your audience is an invaluable asset for your organization. One can imagine that their Buyer Persona is someone who finds value in their work, likes to travel, is family oriented, and loves their pets. 


The Instagram page for the account We Are Cisco An Instagram grid of happy employees and their families and pets



The Gentle Barn, a farm animal rescue sanctuary, is one our favorite 501c3 nonprofits. With barns in CA, TN, and MO all kinds of animals get to live out the rest of their lives in peace. It is no surprise that they have over 365k followers, as they have a brilliant marketing strategy. They share incredibly personal stories about their animals, and often will speak in first person. They showcase the happiness and calm that the animals feel, not the trauma they’ve experienced. By choosing to focus on the love, it innately makes you feel good about what they do, thus encouraging you to support their work. One can imagine their Donor Persona is someone who loves animals, perhaps is vegan/vegetarian, and cares deeply about the world & environment around them.


An image of chickens wearing winter shoes An Instagram page of The Gentle Barn with animals looking happy and cared for by humans



We love this account because Totally Taryn Social has set themselves apart from the competition, which is no easy feat! She is a socially conscious social media manager and helps create a media strategy that aligns with your brand.  While she takes bold social justices stances, her brand is unmistakably fun & poppy and fun, and never didactic or preachy. She is honest and relatable, which makes her feel accessible, like a friend, thus creating trust. One can imagine that her Buyer Persona is someone who wants to make the world a better place, someone creative/artistic, and interested in social justice work. 


Instagram profile for Totally Taryn Social A colorful Instagram grid of Totally Taryn Social


As you can see, there is no one way to build trust and encourage donors to contribute to your cause. But if you build your unique voice, share relatable content, and focus on being vulnerable & authentic, something magical happens; people begin to find YOU because you are speaking from an authentic place to reach specific people. 

We know that the word “Marketing” can feel icky or even manipulative. But, when you are a Positive Impact Organization, it is important to show your audience and donors who you are. Donors want to support you and want to know that their dollars are making a difference. So it is your job to be informed about who your donors are so you can share your values with them in a meaningful & engaging way. 

Creating a Donor Persona can inform you about what kind of difference your donor wants to see in the world. Ideally, you want to speak to donors who align with your organization’s vision of doing good in the world. 

Visit Hubspot for a FREE GUIDE on how to develop your Donor/Buyer Persona

Have questions? Feel free to schedule a chat with us. We’re happy to help in any way we can.


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