Inbound Marketing

5 Types of Donor Personas Your Nonprofit Should Know About

Photo of Jasmine LeBlanc Jasmine LeBlanc

Donor personas are semi-fictional representations of your nonprofit’s ideal donor. In their profiles, they have information collected from interviews of real donors and insights from social media and other analytics platforms. They provide you the knowledge of knowing how your ideal donors think, what they like, and what makes them tick.

Since there are so many different ways of people contributing to your cause, there is not a limit of one donor persona per nonprofit. In fact, there are 5 major types of donor personas that your nonprofit should consider developing.

If you’re just getting started on developing a donor persona, then it’s best to start with one. However, it’s worth looking at your long-term goals to determine which one you and your team should focus on.

In this blog post, we’ll cover the 5 major types of donor personas and explain the goals they best align with so that you can determine which ones you need to create for your nonprofit.

5 Important Types of Donor Personas


All of these types of donor personas are valuable to nonprofits, whether they are contributing their time or finances. Read through these and determine which one(s) are most valuable to your nonprofit’s goals.

1. One-time donor persona

A one-time donor persona is someone who has only contributed financially to your nonprofit once or very infrequently. This type of donor is generally new to hearing about your organization and perhaps doesn’t donate frequently or ever.

A common goal for one-time donor personas is to convert them over to becoming a frequent donor. To do this, it’s essential to determine how your one-time donors found out about your cause and what convinced them to make a donation.

For example, if they clicked through to your website from a Facebook ad, then you would know to continue to invest in that channel to grab their attention and to attract more people like them.

2. Large-gift donor persona

Donors who make large financial contributions are obviously very valuable to any nonprofit. However, as you can imagine, they are not the easiest to attract to your cause.

If your goal is to continue to attract large-gift donors to your nonprofit, then you’ll need to figure out what they look for in a nonprofit prior to donating. For example, financial transparency is very important to most donors because they want to know how their money is used. This could very well be a deciding factor for large-gift donors.

If you have had the luck of already drawing in some large-gift donors, then you have the upper hand of being able to analyze their data to better grasp the idea of what made them want to donate a substantial amount.

Since these donors are such valuable contributors, be prepared to put a lot of focus on them so that you can maintain the ones you do have and attract others like them. Before you commit to focusing on this persona, ask the question, “Would my nonprofit benefit more from a few large-gift donations a year or a lot of frequent smaller-gift donations throughout the year?”


3. Frequent donor persona

If you picked the latter in the question above, then you want to focus on the donor who makes recurring donations regularly. You can always count on this type of donor to participate in your fundraisers. Typically, this persona likes to stay up-to-date with what your nonprofit is doing because they truly believe in your nonprofit’s mission.

To keep attracting this type of persona, you need to uncover what makes them completely support your nonprofit’s mission. This will help you create targeted content in the future to appeal to other potential donors who have similar interests.

Since this persona is so involved in your organization, it’s best to send them success stories, thank them for their donation every time, and to be transparent with your financial reports to keep them in the loop and wanting to give back to your cause.

4. Corporate sponsor donor persona

Now that we’ve covered the different types of individual donors, let’s talk about corporate sponsors. The reason that they are separate from your other personas is because they have a different motive to partner with your cause than an individual does.

This means that your nonprofit is going to have to showcase different content that appeals more to a corporate sponsor. A business’s main reason to partner with a nonprofit is to show off their philanthropic efforts, but also to raise awareness about their business.

More than likely, a company would be interested in what kind of people you attract to your event to see if that is the particular demographic that their business targets as well. This means they will most likely scroll through photo galleries of your past events, read your blog posts, etc.

5. Volunteer persona

Those who donate their time to your nonprofit are equally as valuable to those who contribute financially. However, like the corporate sponsor persona, the volunteer persona has different motives than a traditional donor.

For example, you may have some volunteers that help your cause because they truly enjoy donating their time to your organization. At the same time, you may also have people volunteering because they need to fulfill a requirement for school or their job.

Find out which type of volunteer is in your nonprofit's best interest and work on creating content accordingly. For instance, if you find that your nonprofit gets more help from volunteers who need to earn some type of credit, then you should actively share volunteer schedules on your website, social media, and email marketing while mentioning that it's great for individuals are looking to fulfill a credit for school or work. When people are given that type of information versus them having to spend time researching, then they are more likely to volunteer for your organization.

Donor Personas Are Key for a Strategic Nonprofit Marketing Plan

When you base your nonprofit's marketing strategy around your donor persona's habits and interests, you are more likely to see an increase in donations. However, after reading this blog post you may think that your organization can benefit from all of these different types of personas. While that may be the case, be sure to start out by targeting the one that would be the most valuable. By narrowing down what attracts that specific type of person to your cause, you'll be creating very targeted messages to the right people at the right time.