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Resources – Articles

Know Your Donor and Boost Response with Psychographics – Powerful Strategies for Nonprofit Organizations
By Karen Zapp

Receive more copywriting & marketing insights for today's fundraising & membership organizations
in my newsletter . . . the

ZAPP Nonprofit Leader

Copy that inspires larger donations, motivates more advocacy, or spurs greater response of any kind begins with knowing your donor, your prospect, your audience.  That's why a fundamental rule of writing strong copy is . . . "Know Thy Audience."

Knowing doesn't refer to mere demographics or geographic segments of the population.  Deep, powerful knowledge of your audience comes from psychographics.  Their desires, fears, beliefs, frustrations, interests, and past donating preferences. 
So how do you get to know them?  What are the tools that reveal donor thinking and psychographics?

Study complaint letters you receive. They usually reveal a great deal about your donor's expectations and feelings. Study any letters from donors and prospective donors.

Examine the mailing list data card. Begin near the top of the card. Here is a useful description of what the prospects have responded to or donated to in the past. Next is the profile data. I recommend you be skeptical of this information. Finally, the golden data on the card comes from the usage history. These are "competitors" who have used the list for continuous runs.
Take a close look at who else is successfully using the list.  Study their web sites, publications, and copies of their mailings.  Learn about their mission as it compares to yours.  All this reveals insight into what emotions motivate the donors.

Talk to your major donors. Have someone in your organization in a high position make the phone call – such as the Executive Director, Director of Development, or possibly someone on the board. First thank them for their generosity. Then ask them a few questions about why they give to your mission. What do they like best about what you're doing? I strongly recommend making these calls.  Do what they do. Check out the magazines, books, newsletters, web sites, ads, and products targeted for your donors and prospects. Examine them and get a feel for what's working.

Armed with this knowledge you can "become" the donor or prospect.  You understand how they think and what they think about.  You know their beliefs; what keeps them awake at night; and what they respond to. And this is the foundation for great copy that hits your donor's hot button ... triggers an emotional reaction ... and motivates them to act – to donate. Your fundraising efforts will improve when you know your donors and you write copy that resonates with them based on this knowledge.

If you have a specific question about donor psychographics that I haven't covered, please send it to me here and I'll address it in a future issue of my newsletter - the ZAPP Nonprofit Leader. Or if there's anything at all . . . please let me know how else I can help you with your fundraising.


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