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How to Create Ideal Donor Profiles When Fundraising for Nonprofit Organizations

Fundraising is like any other kind of outreach: the better you understand who you’re talking to, the more effective you’ll be at getting their attention. That’s why creating Ideal Donor Profiles is such a crucial first step when fundraising for nonprofit organizations

Ideal Donor Profiles can help clarify the whos, whats, wheres, whens, and whys of your outreach. A detailed enough profile can give your entire nonprofit organization direction for creating an effective donor cultivation plan and even help you define and differentiate your nonprofit brand as successfully as possible.

Your Ideal Donor Profiles will be most useful if they truly reflect the donors you want to connect with and provide relevant information for facilitating that connection. Learn how to create profiles that do just that, and how to use them once you have them.

What are Ideal Donor Profiles and why are they helpful?

An Ideal Donor Profile (IDP) is a detailed overview of the type of person or organization that you most want to donate to your nonprofit. Crucially, an IDP is not necessarily a profile of someone who has donated to you before.

Your nonprofit can create as many IDPs as you have meaningfully different donor profiles. To maximize the effectiveness of each profile, be as clear as possible about all the reasons why each ideal donor warrants a separate, segmented explanation.

What should I include in my IDP?

Effective profiles don’t need to be exhaustive. Instead, they only need to include the information your fundraising team will find useful. 

One helpful way to determine what to include in your profile is to answer key questions about the donor you’re profiling, such as:

  • Demographics: What is your ideal donor’s age, location, job, and education level?

  • Interest in support: Why would this donor be interested in supporting your organization? 

  • Internet usage: How do these donors use the internet? Which websites or social media platforms do they frequent?

  • Trusted sources of information: How do these donors seek out information? What organizations, interests, or people do these donors pay attention to?

  • Preferred communication channels: How do these donors want to receive communications?

  • Earning attention: What would get these donors to open an email or message?

  • Differentiation: How can you differentiate your nonprofit from similar causes in this donor’s eyes? How can you speak to their values and interests specifically?

Start by tracking down these answers and continue to add relevant questions to your search as you uncover more information.

Illustration showing three donor profiles, represented by polaroid photos and bullet points, with gold stars beneath them.

How do I get the information I need to create an IDP?

Who are the “most ideal” donors you work with right now? What makes them so valuable to your organization? Use these donors as a starting point for establishing your profiles. Figure out which messaging has been most effective at securing donations from these donors and try to figure out why.

Of course, your profiles shouldn’t be based solely on existing or former donors, as this could be limiting. Instead, consider who your nonprofit has prioritized connecting with and why. Are there any organizations your nonprofit has always wanted to establish a relationship with, or demographics that you think would make for especially reliable donors?

Once you’ve found real-world examples, research how other organizations or individuals have motivated these donors in the past. What content do they interact with online? Who do they follow, and why? What do they respond to most frequently and enthusiastically? Who do they seem most interested in talking to, and what do they want to talk about?

How do I use my IDP when fundraising for nonprofit organizations?

Your IDPs will help your marketing and fundraising teams optimize their efforts by informing both the content they create and how it’s distributed.

First, tailor your outreach and other fundraising content according to what you discovered about your IDPs. Create content designed to appeal to their specific needs, interests, and values in the format they’re most likely to engage with. Then, promote this content on the platforms where they’re most likely to see it. 

Next, customize your targeting parameters based on your IDPs. For example, using LinkedIn Sales Navigator, your team could target audiences for tailored outreach by leveraging over 40 filter criteria, including location, seniority level, past or present job title, keywords in their posted content, or even specific activities, like whether they’ve changed jobs in the last 90 days.

Creating detailed IDPs to serve as the foundation of your fundraising efforts can help ensure that you’re targeting high-potential candidates who are more likely to become long-term supporters of your nonprofit. The more accurate and detailed you can make your IDPs, the more impactful your fundraising can become.

To get started targeting your IDPs using LinkedIn Sales Navigator, get in touch with our sales team.