Developing Donor Personas: A Scientific and Social Approach to Effective Multi-Channel Communications

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Presented by Ann Oleson at the Iowa Development Conference at Clarke College in Dubuque, IA July 12, 2012

Presented by Ann Oleson at the Iowa Development Conference at Clarke College in Dubuque, IA July 12, 2012

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  • PEG Study- study own alumni population- all culture’s are different, their institutionsMelissa’s research she didMembership research for dues paying different Application to your specific situation based on available data
  • Missed the boat in relation to attitudinal, demographic, lifestyle data gathering, have the capacity for it
  • Gathering this information and can provide it, alumni population and overall and personas- also building database
  • Melissa’s research attitudinal and demographic My findings and how they overlap with yours
  • Single institution study mirrored findings One micro and one macro approachAll institutions are different
  • Friends and acquaintances not voluntarily providing feedback/information
  • Surprising how many fundraisers don’t work to identify
  • Added last bullet here per team request in presentation
  • Way in which we engage alumni through communications - CHANNEL


  • 1. Developing Donor Personas:A Scientific and Social Approach to Effective Multi-Channel Communications Presented by Ann Oleson, Founder Converge Consulting
  • 2. Someone sleeping in class
  • 3. Our Time Together• The top findings from the donor motivation study• A model for crafting effective communications/personas• Examples of relevant communications• Application of findings to your alumni/donor communications
  • 4. Our Marketing Philosophy
  • 5. Alumni Communications Plan• Strategize – Research – Segmentation/Personas – Plan• Execute – Right message, right audience, right medium, right time• Analyze/Course Correct – Evaluating what works
  • 6. Research• National benchmark research – Wealth Engine, PEG, CASE• Alumni research (quantitative/qualitative)• Social Media Listening/Monitoring
  • 7. What Motivates Your Alumni? Who are your alumni?What do you know about them?
  • 8. Meet Jennifer• 35 years old• VP of Sales for Company• Student Government Officer• Honors Student: 3.9 GPA• Not engaged with her college• No home phone number• Gives 10% of income to philanthropy• Serves on a number of boards in community• Has great feelings toward her college but never been asked to engage in a meaningful way
  • 9. Meet JenniferJust because Jennifer isable to give does notmean she is motivatedto give.How do we understandwho Jennifer is, whatshe cares about, andhow to reach her?
  • 10. Research Objectives• Develop a motivationally-based segmentation model• Uncover the motivations that drive the different types of relationships• Prioritize which alumni segments provide the best opportunities for colleges• Provide recommendations regarding how these different alumni segments should be managed to optimize their individual likelihood of donating• Develop a predictive model and applied tool to classify alumni into segments based on a minimum number of questions
  • 11. A MotivationalSegmentation ofCollege AlumniSegmentation Method and Analysis
  • 12. Questionnaire DevelopmentSecondary ResearchOver 250 research articles concerning college donating and charitable givingwere reviewed to identify current issues, trends, and alumni motivations. – The following variables were identified in the literature and provided guidance for the questionnaire design. Demographics College Experience College Relationship Charitable Giving • Age • Type of college • Personal identification • Personal values • College prestige • Pride • Gender • Perceived need • Religious values • Professors • Income • Campus/facilities • Benefits from giving • Political orientation • Marital status • Activities • Uniqueness of college • Tax benefits • Employment • Grades • Obligation or duty • Networking • Education level • Time to graduation • Professional benefits • Life satisfaction • Tuition • Current involvement • Ethnicity • Trust • Perceived need • Scholarships/grants • Religious affiliation • Family legacy • Prioritization • Academic major • Recognition • Residence • Gratitude • Placement • Student loan balance • Social experience
  • 13. • Insert slide from page 3 of white paper segmentation measures
  • 14. • Insert slide from page 4 of white paper graph
  • 15. Persona DevelopmentThe national study identified three segments ofalumni respondents that vary significantly interms of their attitudes and motivationsassociated with giving to their alma maters:• Champions• Friends• Acquaintances
  • 16. Pull image from page 5 of the white paper
  • 17. Summary of FindingsImplications – Colleges are better at managing relationships with ___________ than they are with _____________. – Colleges ineffectively manage the _______________ segment. – Colleges spend as much money contacting Acquaintances as they do either Champions or Friends. This is a waste of scarce resources that would be better spent enhancing programs targeting other segments.
  • 18. StrategyDISCUSSION
  • 19. Champions are the most important segment for collegesTargeting Priorities to target and manage. – These alumni donate the most frequently and make the largest average donations. They are the foundation for alumni giving programs. • Although we did not focus on major gifts, financially able Champions have the passion to make major donations. – Champions are the low hanging fruit for fundraising programs. Colleges who already have proactive alumni relations programs are likely enjoying at least some success with these alumni through self-selection.
  • 20. Champion CommentsSometime I dont hear about all the events so post onFacebook and email more often! I really enjoyed the Bowltour, the flight was great, loved the football buses, all theevents were amazing including the paddleboat, tour andbest of all the fabulous tailgate party and big win at theBowl. I plan on donating more and being more active aftermeeting all of you. Thank you so much!
  • 21. Friends are the second most important target for colleges.Targeting Priorities – Like Champions, Friends donate frequently. But their average donation is much smaller. Friends provide outstanding opportunities for revenue growth. – Friends donate much more to charities than any other segment, but only devote7% of their charitable giving budget to their college . – Even small increases in the proportion of Friends charitable budget being allocated to their alma mater would provide substantial rewards. Friends are already in the habit of giving to their college and other charities. – Colleges need to do a better job persuading Friends that their college deserves more of their support relative to other charities.
  • 22. Feedback from a Friend FriendFrom a Friend: I am a Head of School for anindependent school in ---------, --, and thereforehave quite a bit of experience in fundraising, justhaving raised $21 million for our capital campaign.I am retiring in June 2012 and will be returning to -------, where I have a home close to. After takingsome time off I intend to get more involved withthe institutions I attended in the area. You maycontact me after June 2012 here is my e-mail andphone number
  • 23. Messaging – Low cost ways in which to keep updated and a way in which to engage
  • 24. Effective Communications
  • 26. The More You Know…I work for a non-profit organization in Cambodiaand fundraising is also part of my responsibility.Ive found that knowing a little bit about mydonors and customizing the message is importantto be effective due to the overwhelming amountof requests people receive. That would bedifficult with a donor/alumni base as large asXXXs but information gleaned from social mediaand online surveys could be helpful. Good luck!Christina
  • 27. How to Create Personas• A number of sources can be used: – Database information (engagement and participation metrics) – Past giving behavior (LYBUNTS, SYBUNTS, etc.) – Prism cluster – Ability to give – Attitudinal Data • Surveys • Focus groups • Social Media
  • 28. President Hennessy, “I have more in commonwith someone who is a young alum living in LosAngeles than I do with someone living in myneighborhood.”We need to develop personas based on whatpeople care about and how they want to beengaged.
  • 29. Question for Group Discussion:• What one group of individuals is a challenge that you would like to engage further?• What information do you have/do you need?• What creative ideas do you have for strategy and execution?
  • 30. Volunteers neededThe University of Northern Iowa is looking for a few volunteers to help host the UNI tent at thePrincipal Charity Golf Classic at Glen Oaks Country Club in West Des Moines on Thursday, May31. Please email Amy Mohr with your name and preference of morning (9 a.m.- 1 p.m.) orafternoon (1-5 p.m.) if you are interested.For all alumni, wear your team colors on Thursday, May 31, in support of UNI and get in free tothe Principal Charity Golf Classic in West Des Moines.Dr. Noel M. Tichy to speak at Education Lecture SeriesUNI alumni and friends are invited to attend a free lecture by Dr. Noel Tichy entitled,“Empowering Leaders at Every Level: Great Leaders Must be Great Teachers,” on Wednesday,April 11 at 7 p.m. in the Maucker Union Ballroom.
  • 31. Just Launched! Hail It ForwardGive back to your Michigan community by sharing one-to-one career guidance with U-M alumni andstudents, including assistance with mentoring, professional branding, relocation, and employmentopportunities. For example, Zachary Rable, 10, is looking for an internship/shadowing opportunity in thefield of urban planning. It takes only a few minutes through Facebook. To help grow your Michigancommunity and help Zachary, visit and click on the Hail It Forward applicationtab.
  • 32. Examples from AudienceHow are you using information aboutyour alumni to segment thecommunications that they receive?
  • 33. Just in Case You Forgot…. Add infographic strategize, implement, analyze
  • 34. Applications and Analysis• Not a static process• Communicating to three groups break into segments• Campaign codes• Sub-segment college of education response rate 1/3 of everybody else• Market testing before you send out 50,000• Run an A/B testing• Test different messages• Constantly be tweaking message
  • 35. Take it Away…1.) Use all available research to developstrategy (especially research relating toyour alumni)2.) One size fits all approach to alumnicommunication doesn’t work.Segmentation and personalization are keysto communication3.) Evaluating and testing is a continuousprocess4.) Things Change
  • 36. Questions?
  • 37. To Continue the Discussion@AnnCOlesonWhite
  • 38. Findings from the Field:Communication Channel Preferences
  • 39. Findings from the Field:Philanthropic Interests
  • 40. The Power of Words