Can you identify the core supporters in your database?

  • 22 July 2021
  • by Emelie Oberg


Can you identify the core supporters in your database?

A growing body of research has found that while the overall amount of dollars being donated continues to grow, the number of individuals donating money is shrinking (Vital Signs, 2018). With fewer donors overall, those who are still giving prove more valuable than ever, and we need to double down on our efforts to create a strong supporter experience to retain the donors we have. At its core, our ability to do this is rooted in our capacity for building strong relationships.

The more we can understand our supporters and tie them to the causes they care about, the more we can sustain progress and cultivate lasting results. To build those kinds of meaningful relationships, we must learn about our supporters on a fundamental level.
What are their passions? What are their beliefs? How do they want to be engaged?

The new ebook from the Blackbaud Institute examines what personas are and how you can use them to connect with your highest-impact supporters through personalised engagement strategies.

Demographic Indicator

Demographic indicators provide an ideal foundation for personas. Much of this information is already in your database or relatively easy to determine through surveys, searches, or purchased data appends. As you begin thinking about how donor personas could look at your organisation, consider the following demographic factors: 

Age is not only the most reliable predictor of giving, but it also correlates to both earning capacity and relative debt reduction. It can often be indicative of life experience and, for donors, a broadening appreciation of the value nonprofits offer to society.

Related to age but worth considering on its own is the generation to which your donors belong. Generational cohorts have distinctive giving habits and preferences influenced by the events and cultural factors that shaped the world as they were growing up.

Household type
In general, families are more likely to make charitable gifts than single-person households. Overall, when two or more employed people share a household, they are more likely to have discretionary income to dedicate to charitable giving. And our research shows that the presence of children under the age of 18 can be an additional indicator of likelihood to give.

Research by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute has found that married and single women are more likely to give, and give in higher amounts, compared to similarly situated men. Women also tend to spread out their giving more than men, giving smaller amounts to more organisations compared to men’s more concentrated giving.

Education level is the second most significant factor affecting giving. It combines insight about
a significant life experience with an indicator of higher financial capacity that comes from increased occupational opportunities. 

Financial capacity
Average giving tends to climb as average income climbs, reflecting the obvious influence of financial capacity to give. Those in the higher income ranges are significantly more likely to be a force when it comes to charitable giving.

What are other key indicators for Personas?


The above post covers one key indicator, but there's more to discover. The free ebook from the Blackbaud Institute, Supporters In Sight: An Introduction to Personas, can help you understand how to incorporate the power of data-driven personas into everything your organisation does for more effective supporter engagement.

Find out more about the value of building relationships with donors based on data-driven personas, factors that indicate a donor’s inclination to give, and how to develop persona-driven messaging
that benefits your entire organisation.  

Download the full ebook now