Audience Research

Nonprofit Audience Personas

Thanks to See3 for sharing this useful case study, originally published on the See3 blog.

Learn more: Create personas to bridge the gap with your target audiences

Many nonprofits fall into the trap of believing that their audience is the general public, when the truth is that your supporters are much more nuanced than that.  By putting together a comprehensive profile of your audience, your nonprofit is better able to create personalized content that speaks to your audience and drives them to action.


Guest Blogger on January 6, 2016 in Audience Research | 0 comments
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chapincoleheadshot13smallGuest blogger, Chapin Cole is a proud Millennial who works in nonprofit development in the California Bay Area. She blogs on getting successful (yet stress-free) as a nonprofit staffer.

Lately, there’s been attention on the idea that nonprofit organizations should take more risks. There’s a stigma against risk in the sector because of a myriad of reasons, including discouragement from funders, the stereotype that nonprofits don’t have sophisticated operations, and the important services that are at stake.

Guest Blogger on May 10, 2013 in Audience Research | 8 comments
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What do you want?Please take a moment right now (I mean it—this is a 3-question survey) to tell me about your greatest marketing pain points, and want you want to understand better or build your skills in.

Your response will focus me on the topics you need to flourish and drive results, while saving time, money and anguish in that process. Please answer these 3 questions right now.

P.S. Can you do this right now, while it’s on your mind?

I’d appreciate it, especially since the survey closes in just a few days. Thanks so much!

Nancy Schwartz on March 21, 2013 in Audience Research | 0 comments
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chapincoleheadshot13smallGuest blogger, Chapin Cole is a proud Millennial who works in nonprofit development in the California Bay Area. She blogs here on getting successful yet stress-free as a nonprofit staffer.

The Secret to Marketing to Millennials—There Isn’t One

If I read another blog post about how to talk to Millennials, I’m going to scream. Yes, I’m a proud member of Generation Y, and I often talk about my experience in the context of my age, but I won’t be pigeonholed.

I appreciate that marketers are interested in how to talk to people my age, but I promise that you don’t have to perform magic to speak to us. We’re not aliens. Just like any other generation, we come with some similarities from our upbringing, but for the most part, other parts of our identity make a big difference in our approach to life.

Here are a few tips about how to understand trends but appreciate nuances when you’re thinking about the Millennial generation.


Guest Blogger on March 1, 2013 in Audience Research | 3 comments
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Change, Change, ChangeThe always wonderful Seth Godin published the original of this post today, and I was so struck by his (always) right on the money take that I had to share it with you, adapted nonprofit style. My changes and additions in italics.

Marketing is about change—changing people’s actions, perceptions or the conversation.

Successful change is usually specific. It’s hard to get someone to support your cause, help a devastated region or volunteer for good. But when you ask her to give $5 to provide a reader for Eldana in Addis Ababa or sign up now to staff the domestic violence hotline for a 60-minute shift next Sunday afternoon, that usually work, if you’re talking in the right way to the right person at the right time.

You don’t have a chance to make mass change, but you can make focused change, when you do it right.

Nancy Schwartz on February 28, 2013 in Audience Research | 0 comments
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Dive in now as shares its analysis on what matters to today’s young people.

These insights, drawn from research of 4,000 young people across the U.S., matters to you whether you know it or not.

Because teens are your cause’s activists and volunteers today (they’re your fundraising secret weapons—convince them to pitch parents on your behalf and you’ll build your donor base fast). And your donors and employees of tomorrow.

Nancy Schwartz on October 24, 2012 in Audience Research | 0 comments
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Like many New Yorkers–along with scholars, researchers and librarians—I was outraged to learn that the New York Public Library (NYPL) planned to reshape its flagship research library to incorporate a circulating library. Especially since the obvious outcome would be moving most of the library’s research collection offsite, delaying retrieval requests, making research difficult and diminishing NYPL’s value as a top-line research center.


Nancy Schwartz on September 24, 2012 in Audience Research | 0 comments
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More than half of U.S. adults 65 and older are now online.

This surprising outtake ( “we knew it was going to happen, but now it’s here”) is one of the most crucial findings in the Older Adults and Internet Use report recently released by Pew Internet.  The trend centers on younger seniors 65 to 75, with Internet use dropping off significantly after age 75.

Here’s the key finding: Once they’re online, seniors return frequently with 70% using the internet on a daily basis.


Nancy Schwartz on July 30, 2012 in Audience Research | 3 comments
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The stresses of the times are dramatically affecting your organization’s relationships, and that’s likely to continue for a very, very long time. But there’s some very good news.

Despite today’s challenges, there is a way for your organization to build and strengthen vital relationships with the people whose help you need as donors, advocates, volunteers and more. Here are my guidelines for implementing the doable, proven strategy—getting personal to get relevant—that is your single most important key to marketing success right now:

Nancy Schwartz on December 29, 2011 in Audience Research | 1 comment
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A huge part of what I love about guiding nonprofit communicators to greater impact is seeing the “aha moment.” I witnessed a great one last week while presenting the Total Focus Marketing Plan Workshop in Seattle last week, with Kivi Leroux Miller.

DD Coutts, Vice President of Development at Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation was among the terrific group of energized workshop participants. During the segment on getting to know your target audiences, DD had an “aha moment” that will make all the difference in her ability to connect effectively with the very folks who can help move the Foundation’s mission forward.

She had been identifying the Park’s visitor base — the ideal source for volunteers now and donors later — as families but realized, with our guidance, that this broad category didn’t give her the insight she needed to connect with them. There are just to many kinds of families, varying in size, interests, available time, motivation for using the park and other dimensions.

Here’s how DD moved forward to group (a.k.a. segment) her target audiences into three distinct groups that use the park:

  1. Families with young children
  2. Families with older children
  3. Immigrant families

This segmentation led to DD’s next insight — that each group uses the park in different ways. She named and described the segments as follows:

  1. Nibblers: Families with young children. Tend to stay on the periphery of the park and visit for brief periods.
  2. Explorers: Families with older children. Explore the complete park, spend more time there.
  3. Celebrators — Extended families, usually immigrants. Use the park as a gathering spot.

You see how much more useful these segments are, enabling DD to take the next step to profile a persona within each segment — an individual or two who epitomize the segment. Your personas show you what your primary audiences’ wants and habits are, so you know how to pinpoint where your organization’s wants overlap with them. That’s the sweet spot for marketing success!

Kudos to DD for going beyond the obvious!

P.S. Learn more on how to strengthen your nonprofit’s marketing impact with the Getting Attention Guide to Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom.

Nancy Schwartz on June 23, 2011 in Audience Research | 0 comments
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