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Identifying Your Nonprofit’s Target Audience

Allison Carpenter

by Allison Carpenter

Campaign

05.04.2018

Imagine this:

You’re trying to solicit donations for your organization. You’ve got a list of people to communicate with, but you don’t know anything about them aside from their names. You don’t know what they care about or if they’re even moderately interested in your cause. Nonetheless, you decide to cast out your net.

If you think that this doesn’t sound like a very effective fundraising strategy, you’re right.

Unfortunately, that’s precisely what every social good organization without a defined nonprofit target audience is doing.

There are more than 7 billion people on earth, and trying to appeal to all of them is impossible. As such, you’ve got to locate and define your target audience: the people who want to support you. When you do this, it’s much easier to connect meaningfully with the people who stand behind your cause and make the most of your fundraising efforts.

Here’s your complete guide to identifying your target audience, and finding ways to connect with them.

First Things First. Identify Your Goals.

Before you can identify your target audience, you need to identify your goals.

What is your NPO trying to achieve? How much money do you need to raise? What objectives are you pushing for? Keep in mind that your NPO’s goals can change over time, but understanding your goals as they exist right now will help you understand and arrange the rest of your social strategy.

As you move toward defining your target audiences, you can build a handful of target audiences to speak to and support these goals – but identifying them is the best place to start.

Prioritize Your Nonprofit Target Audiences

Again, you can’t appeal to everyone, and some groups are inherently more important than others.

As such, you need to learn who you’re targeting specifically, and which groups to prioritize. These priority audiences should be the ones who support the foundational goals of your organization.

Not sure who these audiences are? Consider who you need the support of if you’re going to reach your goals – these are your primary audiences. While this doesn’t mean that these are the only audiences you should focus on, they are the ones at whom most of your marketing and fundraising efforts should be directed.

Build Your Nonprofit Target Audience Personas

Once you’ve established your goals and priority audiences, it’s time to get to work building your audience personas. These personas are fictionalized versions of your primary supporters. Creating them allows you to tailor your marketing efforts, keep your content strategy organized and centralized, and adjust your website design and messaging, so it’s as direct and creative as possible.

As you construct your personas, you’ll want to do some research. This means consulting multiple perspectives, talking to donors and volunteers, polling past and current members, and looking for ways to pull together these various strings of data.

Here are some tips for gathering the kind of information you need to craft an audience persona, especially if you’ve never done it before:

  • Consult Your Community Database. As you comb through this database, identify patterns based on groupings, attributes, and more.
  • Call Members of Each of These Groups. Once you’ve created groupings from your community databases, schedule brief phone calls with individuals who opt-in to be interviewed. This will help you learn more about them and gain the information needed to craft your personas.
  • Record Your Calls and Revisit Them Later. When you do this, you can spot patterns and refer back to the data later, if you happen to need it.
    If you’ve never created an audience persona before, using a checklist or template is the easiest way to compile the data you’ve brought together. Here is a downloadable audience persona template from HubSpot, which is a great place to start.

Once you’ve laid out the structure of your audience persona, you can tweak it to provide more detail or build additional personas to suit your various audience segments.

Remember that audience personas aren’t concrete – they shift as your organization and goals do, so you may need to go back and re-adjust them every few years.

Target Audiences: The Secret to Successful Nonprofit Marketing

If you’ve never established a persona for your nonprofit target audience, now is a great time to get started. Ideal for organizing and streamlining your marketing efforts, building a nonprofit target audience (or a series of them) is every bit as important as creating a content strategy or coming up with a social media marketing plan.

In many ways, it’s the foundation of your fundraising strategy, and you can’t afford to overlook it.

In addition to allowing you to raise more money, establishing a nonprofit target audience also serves the incredibly important purpose of providing a pathway to connect with your supporters more authentically.

And this, after all, is what running an NPO is all about.

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