Reaching Peer-to-Peer Supporters Through Data-Driven Personas
Once upon a time, nonprofit organizations were essentially the only game in town when it came to offering people an outlet for their charitable time and treasure. That time has ended, and it has become glaringly obvious each time you open a newspaper (another relic of “once upon a time”) or scroll through your Facebook feed.
Opportunities to exercise generosity are endless, and many of them have no connection to nonprofits. Donating to help defray the cost of a funeral, setting up a fundraising page to support a friend who lost a job or helping a small business get off the ground are all common and, in some ways, present a competitive challenge to nonprofits.
The trends today indicate there are more funds being given or raised by a smaller number of individuals. As technology has empowered individuals to give back in the ways that mean the most to them, the time has also come for nonprofits to leverage technology and, more importantly, data in ways we’ve only previously dreamed to stay connected with these engaged supporters. Fundraisers are no strangers to regular ol’ data, but the newest tool in the fundraiser’s toolbox is “big data.”
Much of the data we focus on in fundraising is in the form of information we know to be true, because it has already happened. What most of us don’t know is what might happen in the future. Predictive analytics uses big data, algorithms and machine learning to predict outcomes. If this sounds highly complex to you, you’re right. Data science is one field, like legal affairs and many financial matters, where outside experts can help nonprofits.
In fundraising, we can use complex predictive scoring to determine a supporter’s likelihood to take certain important actions. For example, how probable is it for each constituent in your database to make a recurring gift, include your organization in their estate plan, become a major donor, etc.? Armed with these scores, we can then make informed decisions on how much time, budget and effort to commit to each individual.
Once we know who is most likely to perform certain actions based on predictive scoring, we can take big data to the next level. To encounter the donors who are likely to participate in peer-to-peer activities, we need to look to personas.
These are not your run-of-the-mill personas many of us have used in past communications efforts. These personas are derived from complex statistical models and go well beyond the marketing personas many organizations have created based mostly on opinion and some limited data.
For example, data scientists recently performed a cluster analysis of 1.36 million peer-to-peer fundraising participants and 1.2 billion individual fundraising actions. As a result, they uncovered nine distinct data-driven personas that can help organizations better connect with their supporters and, ultimately, increase peer-to-peer campaign revenue. Let’s take a quick look at three of the nine peer-to-peer personas.
Educated, wealthy and extremely healthy, overachievers are only slightly more philanthropic than the average. They’re motivated to do good and to be the best in everything they carefully decide to do. Most importantly, they are exceptional fundraisers. They are financially secure and tend to make sizable personal gifts and receive more and larger donations from their network of family and friends.
They’re also more likely than average to donate to other peer-to-peer participants. Overachievers are more likely to participate in cycle events and DIY campaigns. They have a high-risk aptitude and tend to be good targets for dare or obstacle events.
Cause enthusiasts get excited about making a difference! This is the most inherently philanthropic persona, though they tend to skew below average in terms of wealth and education. Cause enthusiasts donate much more than their wealth profile suggests, and they have the highest peer-to-peer revenue as a percentage of income.
You can count on them to make personal donations to their own peer-to-peer campaigns, as well as make donations to other peer-to-peer participants. They’re also most likely to participate in multiple peer-to-peer campaigns.
Cause enthusiasts are more likely to participate in runs and walks, and somewhat likely to participate in DIY and cycling events. They’re most likely to be a team captain, though their teams tend to be smaller.
One of the least philanthropic segments, Thrill seekers are more interested in appearances than they are in your mission, and they have the lowest revenue as a percentage of their income.
They keep up on the latest trends and have all the latest tech. This group is very active on social media, though they post more than they engage. Thrill seekers are below average in terms of peer-to-peer revenue and are most likely to only pay a fee and not fundraise.
The traits shared in the above personas are based on hard data, not educated guesses. This means that an organization could run its database through this model in order to identify which persona group each individual in the database should belong to. With this sort of information, segmented communication, both at scale and individually, can be achieved in new, exciting, effective and informed ways.
Advanced data analysis in the form of probability-backed likelihood scoring, along with data-driven personas, is going to be game changing for innovative nonprofits with the foresight to turn these insights into action! Will you be at the forefront?
Editor's note: This article was originally published in the 2019 September/October Edition of NonProfit PRO.
If you're interested in learning more about peer-to-peer fundraising, check out the Peer to Peer Advanced Conference on November 4 & 5.
Shana Masterson has been a fundraiser since 2001. In 2014, she joined Blackbaud as a strategic consultant. Her unique skill set as both a peer-to-peer fundraiser and a technologist allows her to focus on maximizing peer to peer campaign revenue in relatable and innovative ways.
Prior to joining Blackbaud, Shana led the American Diabetes Association’s online peer-to-peer fundraising and communication strategy. She also smashed peer-to-peer fundraising goals during her time with the National Brain Tumor Society, the American Cancer Society and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
An inspiring and passionate leader, Shana has twice been a keynote speaker at the P2P Professional Forum Conference and presents frequently at other regional and national nonprofit events.
Shana is co-author of the annual P2P Fundraising Study, is a frequent blogger and has created numerous white papers on the art and science of peer-to-peer fundraising. Shana is based in Rhode Island where she lives with her husband and two sons.