Tool 5: Creating Donor Persona

A marketing persona is not a real person, but an invented in-depth description of the
model representative of your target audience. The idea behind this is to reflect on your target audience as if they were a real person. Marketing personas are a great reminder to prioritize your target audience’s needs and build your marketing and communication strategy on them. In the case of resource partners, marketing personas are also called “donor personas”. Donor personas summarize your resource partner’s motivation to support your cause, allowing you to design targeted strategies to engage them.

You can be very creative here, giving your persona names, demographic details, interests, and behavioural traits. You can even add a picture. Since different groups of people may support your organisation’s cause for different reasons, you might need to create more than one marketing persona, for instance one-time donors, recurring donors, and large gift donors. You can also include volunteers and networks like your family and friends.

When creating a donor persona, it is best to always include or talk to your target audience directly, in this case your current and potential resource partners. Do not rely solely on your own or your organisation’s beliefs and assumptions. You can for instance interview three to five resource partners. You can start by simply asking them the question “What inspires you to support a cause or organization?” and continue digging deeper by asking for the reasons behind. To
ensure that your resource partners participate in the interview, make it clear that the interview is not an appeal for donations but for research purposes. Also make it as easy as possible for them to participate, allowing them to pick time and date and means of communication.

In addition to that, you can also explore different ways to gather information; be it written documents, expert interviews or stakeholder consultations. You can explore your resource partners websites and publications for this. After successful interviews, the process of developing the actual donor personas should ideally be done in a workshop that includes as many ‘experts’ on the target audience as possible. This can be people who have worked with or lived with your target audience.

As a team, you can sit and try to identify common traits and patterns in the interviewees. Patterns identified can be filled in a donor persona template like this one:

persona background

Source: Adapted from, accessed 24 March 2021.

Having gained a deeper understanding on your donor persona, you can discuss the following questions with your team:

  • What are your persona’s wants and needs?
  • How do you help to solve your persona’s challenges?
  • How can you help your personnel reaching their goals?
  • Which communication channels will help you reach your persona?
  • Which language will appeal to them?
  • What are buzzwords that appeal to them?

At the end of this process, you will have developed clear guidelines for your donor communication and marketing that will increase your success rate in engaging and motivating resource partners.

Try to imagine an actual person that is among your target audience:


Source: The Compass (2019): How to do Audience Analysis., accessed 07/10/2020.

Donor Persona Example 

donor persona


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