What is the value of donor personas and how does a nonprofit develop them?
Founded in 2010 in the wake of the Haiti earthquake, Team Rubicon is a veteran-led disaster response organization whose volunteers have responded to more than 400 disasters and humanitarian crises across the world.
The nimble nonprofit experienced explosive growth during large scale disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, Typhoon Haiyan, and Hurricane Harvey. After acquiring and nurturing thousands of new donors throughout the last decade, Team Rubicon called upon CauseMic to assess its donor base in more detail and understand their motivations for investing in the organization.
Surfacing the Needs and Motivations of Donors
CauseMic began its research by evaluating existing data available through Team Rubicon's CRM (Salesforce), fundraising platform (Classy), and Google Analytics. With an understanding of quantitative trends, we developed an online survey, which was deployed soon after the organization's response to Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. The survey responses began to surface the needs and motivations among those who had made a gift within the last two years.
Next, we facilitated qualitative interviews with a diverse set of donors, ensuring representation across giving levels, date of first gift, gender, age, and location. These discussions validated and provided additional context into the data from the survey responses, and helped bring the personas to life. A donor persona is a description of one donor that represents a group of donors with similar characteristics, qualities, and motivations. Four personas arose from the research - 1. The Empowerer 2. The Compassionate Supporter 3. The Future Teammate and 4. The Advancer.
Leveraging Personas to Increase Lifetime Value
With clear insight into the needs and desires of Team Rubicon's donor base, CauseMic created an action plan for acquiring new supporters and upgrading existing ones. From optimizing the donation page to mapping out content that would appeal to each persona at various stages, Team Rubicon could begin to customize donor journeys with a deeper understanding of their audience. We also gained valuable insights on how most donors first encountered the organization, which enabled staff to invest in cost effective acquisition strategies.
Prioritizing content pillars such as lifetime of service, transparency, and innovation, Team Rubicon will continue to solicit for donations during large scale emergencies and disasters while strategically cultivating donors as the volunteer base trains for the worst.