Monday Mixtape 025: How To Define Your Nonprofit’s Audience

Megan Donahue
Megan Donahue

Monday Mixtape 025: How To Define Your Nonprofit’s Audience

Here’s your Monday Mixtape, a weekly newsletter from CauseVox designed to jumpstart your week, challenge your thinking, and inspire you to keep at it.

Each week, we’ll hand-pick must-read articles, thinking, resources, and stories for nonprofit fundraisers and leaders and drop it in your inbox. Have suggestions or questions? Let us know at Enjoy this week’s Mixtape!

Before you can write a fundraising email or start recruiting peer-to-peer fundraisers, you have to know one simple thing:

Who are you talking to, anyway?

Who is the audience?

nonprofit audience

We make choices based on the audience all the time in our daily lives. You know which stories your grandma will think are funny, but you 5-year-old niece won’t understand. You avoid slang during job interviews but develop an entire secret language with your spouse. You definitely know who you should and shouldn’t swear in front of.

We understand the audience in conversation, but sometimes when we sit down to create nonprofit communications projects, the target audience gets fuzzy.

We try to write to “people,” or “donors,” or “everyone,” and end up aiming our communications directly at “no one” instead.

You know what happens when you write to no one? That’s right. No one gives. No one cares. No one opens your emails or signs up to volunteer. If you focus on no one, No one will show up.

This week, I’ve got posts on finding, analyzing, and appealing to target audiences. We’ve got lessons from both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors, a great podcast interview, and tips for rocketing your communications directly at the people who are most interested to receive them.

Here’s this week’s mix:

“Do not address your readers as though they were gathered together in a stadium. When people read your copy, they are alone. Pretend you are writing to each of them a letter on behalf of your client.” —David Ogilvy

Track #1: Figuring Out Who The Heck You’re Writing For by David Hartstein at WiredImpact

This is a quick little guide about writing for a specific audience. The focus is on websites, but the advice applies across communications. As David says, “Establishing clarity as to who your audience is prior to writing can help you write the kind of content your readers are actually looking to find.” Sometimes it really is that simple.

David recommends specificity, sub-categorizing general audiences, and staying focused as you develop content. These are good reminders for any communication project.

Track #2: [Interview] Julia Reich On Identifying Ideal Donor Personas & Why They Matter by Noah Barnett for Rally & Engage at CauseVox

On this episode of Rally & Engage, we’re joined by Julia Reich. Julia is the founder of Stone Soup Creative, and a branding consultant for nonprofits, as well as a strategist, speaker, designer, and writer. She’s a fun guest, and I think you’ll enjoy listening to her.

Julia talks about ideal donor personas–what they are, how to identify them, and why they matter. As she says during the interview:

“The people you want to reach—they all have distinct objectives, challenges, needs, and values that kind of define them as a group. So if you can create a personal sketch of who this person is that will help paint a clear picture of them, so it’s not just like this nebulous mass or group.”

To get you started identifying your ideal donor persona, we’ve also got a free worksheet to help you brainstorm.

Track #3: How To Find Your Target Market So Content Sticks by Tommy Walker at The Daily Egg

We can learn a lot from our for-profit counterparts, particularly about marketing. In this post, Tommy digs into the nuts and bolts of identifying a target audience and what to do once you’ve found them, in order to create relevant content.

Tommy focuses on sleuthing out the inside scoop on a target audience via demographics and psychographics,  with examples for each approach. This may be more detailed than you’ll need to get started on donor personas and appealing to a specific audience, but it’s good information to have in your pocket.

I think that with a couple tweaks, this could easily apply to donors: “The list of target markets research isn’t about finding more places to hawk your wares. It’s about understanding the market’s core attributes and learning to sell in a way that resonates deeply and gets them wanting more. The best way to resonate with a market is to become a reflection of its ideal self.”

Track #4: Donor Segmentation: What It Is, And Why It Matters by Haley Bodine at CauseVox

Want your donors to pay more attention to your communications? Segment them!

In this piece, Haley guides us through donor segmentation, and how it helps nonprofits communicate more effectively. As she says, “Donor segmentation primarily focuses on providing relevant content to a smaller pool of constituents. It prevents a broader base of your donors from feeling that your content and communications are irrelevant to them personally.”

Segmentation can improve your open rates, encourage donors to stay on your email list, and generally boost your retention efforts. Haley explores several ways of segmenting donors and then dips into using personas to make your messaging targeted, relevant, and engaging to these audiences.

Bonus Tracks:

[Summer Playlist] Happy Summer Beats

By the way…

We’re hosting a webinar on August 23 at 1 pm EST to help you kickstart your Giving Tuesday planning!

In this free live training, you’ll learn why the global day of giving matters to your organization, how to run a campaign, and how to rally and organize your supporters.

We’ll share some best practices and tips to help you get the most out of #GivingTuesday and have a Q&A session so you can ask our team questions.

You can learn more and register here.

(^ grab your spot now, as it will fill up)

Thanks for reading!

– Megan

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P.S. Questions about this week’s mix? Suggestions for next week? Don’t leave me in the dark. Let me know by emailing me at

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