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By chris

Today we’re featuring the work of Beth Brodovsky, President of Iris Creative Group Inc. We’re always looking to give our readership the best content available and want to ensure that we fill our blog with a diverse range of content. Enjoy!

Your Perfect Person is Hiding in the Data

Who is your audience? Most people answer “everyone.” It’s actually the complete opposite. In fact, you want some people to not understand your message, not connect with your story and not give to your organization. If your goal is to make everyone like you, it’s all but guaranteed that no one will love you.

To Connect, you Need a Target

And you get more points for hitting the bullseye. In fundraising, that amounts to creating a story that is so perfect for some people that they feel you are truly speaking to them. They show up, stick around and give back because they want to be part of something that matters to them – not because you begged them. Knowing your audience is the key to everything.
  • When you know who you are looking for they show up everywhere.
  • You spend your time and money on platforms where you will find them – and where they want to find you.
  • You know what is an opportunity and what is a distraction.
In trying to accommodate everyone you end up dividing your efforts, putting 30, 50, 60% into multiple buckets and never pouring 100% into any one place.

Beyond the Target Market: Your Perfect Person

When writing a marketing plan or starting your prospect research you probably expected to look at demographics like age, gender, giving habits and wealth. Those data points will help you segment your marketing. There is an opportunity — right there in your data — to go deeper and understand what to say to the people you are targeting. Learning who your current donors are as people will help you build a model of who to look for next. Your Perfect Person isn’t a marketing segment. It’s an ideal. It’s the person you have in mind when you are writing your copy, designing your materials or planning a strategy. Of course you have more than one type of person in your audience. But they are not all of equal importance. You may create a marketing message for a specific segment, like young donors or foundations, but your perfect person is the hub at the center of the wheel that every segment connects to. And if you’re sending all of your communications one way in one group, you have one segment, one person. That’s what you’re doing in reality. You can’t ever hit donors and prospects, and clients and volunteers all through one communication equally well. To connect deeply and motivate your audience, design your communications for the person you can’t live without.

Where to Start Looking

Who will you focus on right now so if you got 10, 20, 100, 1000 more of those you’d be financially sound? Start by thinking about what’s already working in your organization. What action most predictably converts to reliable funding for you? Is it annual giving over a certain number of years, a specific giving level, a flip to monthly giving? There are many philanthropic markers. To create a profile of your perfect person, focus on the markers based in action —what people are actually doing right now. Go into your database or prospect list and look for the people who have taken the action that matters to you at least twice. Export that list into an Excel spreadsheet.

Using Unexpected Data to Build a Profile

So you now have a list of people taking action that indicates they are involved and active in the things that support you. You can use this to begin to understand who your supporters are. Take your spreadsheet and do a sort on the first name column. What are the top three most common first names? Lets say they are Barbara, Cathy and Ellen. What would that tell you? Many names run in 10-year cycles and tend to be more common in some cultures, religions and regions than others. Starting with what you already know helps you imagine a real person who wants to connect with you. The Israel Guide Dog Center for the blind did this in their spring appeal. They had an exciting milestone about pairing their 500th dog. But instead of making the story about them, they focused on what that means to the client and to the donor — independence. They switched from mailing at Passover to another holiday a few weeks later, Israeli Independence Day. Knowing what their donor cares about lets the story do the work. And that work is so much easier if your audience and your message are perfectly aligned.

This is the Basis of Building a Brand

A nonprofit needs a brand to connect people to why they do what they do. It’s the bridge between your mission and your marketing. Knowing your perfect person lets you seek out the prospects in all areas – donors, funders, volunteers and advocates — who align with your cause and propel you forward.  Prospect Research Whitepaper Downloadable Guide Beth Brodovsky helps organizations drive participation. As the president of Iris Creative Group Inc, Beth is committed to developing the communication strategies, tactics and tools organizations need to get people take notice — and take action. In 2013 Beth launched Nonprofit Toolkit to provide on-demand marketing resources. She hosts the weekly nonprofit marketing podcast Driving Participation.  Connect with Beth at
[Guest Post] Your Perfect Person is Hiding in the Data