Using Personas to Create Great Content For Your Nonprofit

  • by Shala Graham
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Of all marketing tools that nonprofits can use, personas remain amongst the most powerful and underutilized.

If you aren't familiar with the concept, the marketing persona is simply a model or aggregate for your most important audiences. In other words, it's what your "average" donor, volunteer, reader, or staff member might be like. Initially, these can be based on best guesses, but smart nonprofits research and refine them over time.

Creating Personas For Your Nonprofit

The first step towards creating effective and usable nonprofit personas is understanding which ones you actually need. In other words, consider which groups or audiences you need to appeal to or work with the most, and then start to sort by those categories.

You might want to examine any available demographic data, along with insights you can glean from interviews or feedback from current members of the group. In other words, if you don't know what all of your volunteers look like, start by thinking about your best ones, and then work up from there.

Also note that, even though personas should include basic background information like age, gender, income, education level, and so on, a good persona goes deeper than that. What you really want to know is why someone gives time or money to your group, for example, or why they would care what you have to say at all. Understanding those motivations is the key towards getting actual value from the personas later.

We should also point out that you might have many different personas, even within similar categories. For example, you might find that volunteers typically fall into a few distinct groups, each with their own persona.

How To Put Your Nonprofit Personas To Work

Once you have your nonprofit personas in place, you can begin to use them to shape your communications. For example, if you need to put together a website that appeals to event attendees or men and women who volunteer their time, you already know what kind of audience they represent, how to best reach them, and what their motivations might be.

Over time, as these personas are refined and added to, you can make all of your marketing and public indications more effective by keeping your personas in mind. The better you know your audience, and what they want, the easier it is to get their attention and inspire them to action.

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