Determining Your Ideal Donor

When it comes to marketing your non-profit, it’s tempting to say, we need to market to anyone who will give us money. However, not all donors are created equally. Some donate more than others, while others are advocates for your your organization or chosen cause, which in turn generates additional donors.

This is why it’s critical you know who your ideal donor is. When you know who your ideal donor is your marketing will be more effective.


An important thing to remember about identifying your ideal donor is that it’s a tool to improve your marketing. Creating an ideal donor profile doesn’t mean you turn away donors who don’t fit the profile. All it means is when you market your business you’re marketing to a specific kind of donor.

So, how do you identify your ideal donor? 

Simply follow this process:

  1. Identify your biggest donors
  2. Identify your biggest advocates
  3. Look for overlap between the people from step 1 and 2
  4. Build a donor persona

Identify your biggest donors

The first step is to identify which donors tend to donate the most money. 

If you have a list of your actual donors go through your list and write down the top 20 donors (by the amount donated).

If you don’t have a list or if you’re just getting started, don’t worry. Instead of looking through your own data, you need to research who is publicly donating to similar non-profits. Try to write down at least 5 names from your research.

Learn how to determine your ideal donor and market your non-profit

This quick guide walks you through two critical steps for ensuring success — determining your ideal donor and how to market yourself.

Free download! No email signup required. Simply click the button to download.

Identify your biggest advocates

The next step is to think about which donors promote your non-profit and/or cause as much as they can. Once again we are going to try to use any data you already have, but researching online will work as well.

If you have a list of your actual donors go through your list and highlight the names you recognize. Do you most likely recognize them before they are involved with your non-profit in some fashion. Then look through your social media accounts and note which people are constantly engaging with you.

If you don’t have a list or if you’re just getting started, you’ll need to start at this step. We’re first going to get on all the major social media platforms and search for hashtags related to your cause. Note any people who are actively posting about your cause and how many followers they have. The most active people with the biggest followings are going to be the best advocates.

Look for overlap

Once you’ve identified your biggest donors and biggest advocates, we need to see if there is an overlap between the two lists. If a person is on both lists make sure to write their name down because that person is the best of both worlds, they donate and advocate.

If there is no overlap, it’s not a problem. Instead, write down the name of your biggest donor and the name of your biggest advocate. We’ll build personas for both of them.

Build a donor persona

To understand the best ways to market to your ideal donor, we first need to understand more about their life and why they are attracted to your cause.

Start by filling in as much information as possible for the following questions (it’s ok to have unanswered questions):

  • Age?
  • Occupation?
  • Where do they live?
  • What is their day-to-day like?
  • What is their income level?
  • What are their values?
  • Where else do they donate their time and money?
  • Why do they feel compelled to donate to your cause?
  • What change are they looking to make in the world?
  • Where do they engage with you the most (phone, social media, website, etc)?

If you have any unanswered questions then it’s time to brainstorm. Put yourself in that person’s shoes and try to answer the questions as if you were that person. Don’t be afraid to do a little bit of research about their life. Just be mindful to do your research in a tactful way.

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Justin Lynch
Justin Lynch

Justin is a Brand Strategist at Avlier, a brand consulting company.