If I’m Not the Target Audience, Who Is?
Ever since I wrote my first fundraising appeal back in the Reagan administration, I have been chanting under my breath, “I am not the target audience.” But that raises an important question: Just who is the target audience?
Some nonprofits have gone to elaborate lengths to define their target audience, determining her age, lifestyle and shopping patterns, and sometimes even giving her a name. While that seems a bit over-the-top to me (but hey, whatever works!), the other end of the spectrum is to not even bothering to figure out that there is a target audience … and it probably isn’t you.
To answer the question asked above, let’s first answer a few other important questions.
Why does it matter that we know who the target audience is?
There is a series of humorous client comments turned into posters on WebDesignDev’s website. My hands-down favorite is, “The target audience is males and females aged zero and up.” But of course, while that sounds appealing, it’s just not realistic. At any nonprofit, the goal of a direct-mail letter or an eappeal is to raise money. We all know that people won’t just part with that hard-earned currency because we ask them to. And different people are motivated by different things.
Writing “to the masses of human beings out there in Donorland” pretty much guarantees that you’ll just miss everyone. You need to focus in on the people most likely to actually respond to your request. (It would be nice if they also read your writing masterpiece, but we can’t ask for everything.) Knowing who your target donor is helps you chose words, concepts, even typeface.
Who isn’t the target audience?
While it can be hard to convince them of this, the target audience isn’t your boss, the board chair or even your fellow staff members. Nor is it their family members. Bluntly, these people know way too much about your organization’s purpose and programs. Some of them have been on the committee that wrote the mission statement that was designed to offend no one and restrict nothing. They see the reports, know the numbers, hear the scuttlebutt and have gotten a peek under the kimono.
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.