In a recent blog post, Can You Identify the Core Supporters in Your Database? (Part 1), we explained how demographic factors can play a very important role in defining who your core supporters are in your database. Demographic factors like those we described are often used in fundraising in conjunction with wealth screening to determine giving capacity.
But when taking a persona-based approach to fundraising, it is important to go beyond an understanding of simple capacity and consider the factors that lead to a donor’s inclination to give. While demographic factors are a great foundation for your personas, they don’t show the full picture.
Wealth screening alone reveals potential donor capacity, but it says nothing about the probability that a prospective supporter will actually make a gift. Looking at the combination of likelihood and capacity is critical, as the wealthiest prospect may have little interest in your mission, and the strongest advocates may not have the capacity to provide large gifts.
With a more diversified view of supporter traits, you can focus on four core types of prospects for your personas:
Prospects with a high likelihood to donate to your organisation but not necessarily large capacity
This group is prime for upgrading to mid-level or sustaining donors as its members have a strong affinity to your organisation and have the capacity to increase their giving. In addition, this group may have hidden wealth and therefore may be worth further investigation. They may also be great prospects for planned giving.
Prospects with both a high likelihood to donate and a high capacity
This group loves your organisation and has both the desire and the capacity to make a significant investment. These are typically your best major gift prospects.
Prospects that have a low likelihood to donate to your organisation but large financial capacity
This group will take longer to cultivate as members have little to no attachment to your organisation, and therefore you may want to minimise your investment with these prospects or acknowledge that you will need to focus on building long-term relationships before making big asks.
Prospects that have a low likelihood to donate to your organisation and a low capacity
This group is represented in every organisation’s database. Most organisations invest too much time, attention, and money in cultivation of these prospects that goes unrewarded. It is recommended that you minimise your investment with these prospects and shift your attention to the other three groups. Of course, there will be exceptions, which you can read more about in the full ebook.
To identify inclination to give, start thinking about questions like:
- What parts of your organisation does the supporter tend to engage with?
- Do they volunteer with a specific type of program?
- Do they attend a certain event year after year?
- Do they open every email you send, or do they only respond to paper mailings?
- Do they follow and reshare your organisation’s posts on social media?
- What are their personal hobbies?
Use these clues to help you determine which aspects of your organisation’s mission the supporter cares most about. And when it comes to information that isn’t necessarily reflected in your database, don’t be afraid to ask!
Supporter surveys can help you accurately understand why your constituents engage with you. Tracking these kinds of attitudes and channel preferences can show you who your most engaged donors are, and these are often the donors who are most inclined to give.
What are the next steps in identifying your key personas?
The above post covers one key indicator, but there's more to discover. The free ebook from the Blackbaud Institute, Supporters In Sight: An Introduction to Personas, can help you understand how to incorporate the power of data-driven personas into everything your organisation does for more effective supporter engagement.
Find out more about the value of building relationships with donors based on data-driven personas, factors that indicate a donor’s inclination to give, and how to develop persona-driven messaging
that benefits your entire organisation.