At the end of last year, I spent a good deal of time analyzing our database (yes, my inner geek is showing) and asking the big questions: where do I need to make an investment? Do I have the right geographic coverage to support sales? And, most critically, what “personas” or profiles currently make up my list? Are they in development, do they manage special events, or do they play a technical role in the organization? What do these people have in common, what do they read, and what is their biggest pain? How can I communicate with them more effectively?
The reason marketers start here is the same reason a nonprofit should – making a connection to the real people in your database.
So what is a “persona”? Think of it as a fictional character created to represent the different groups that you interact with (e.g. “Soccer Moms” or “Nascar Dads”). A persona allows you to step into their world. It allows you to communicate with or serve groups of people with similar desires. It allows you to deliver a more relevant message. And, most importantly, it can allow you to connect the dots between your mission and their daily lives in a way that is meaningful to them.
Nonprofits interact with such a variety of groups – annual fund donors, foundations, corporations, volunteers, practitioners, program recipients, advocates, journalists, major donors – and each group has a set of unique characteristics. What’s the best way to engage these groups and the different personas within them?
We’ve just recently put together a great webinar on 10 key supporters to focus on. It covers how to create engagement plans based on the interests of these personas and their interactions with your organization. There is also a great blog post by Nancy Schwartz that talks in depth about personas and includes a sample persona checklist that you can adapt for your organization.