You’re having a conversation, at a party or business networking event, and you mention that you’re on the Board of Good Cause Inc.
“Oh, that’s interesting,” someone in the room says. “What is Good Cause Inc.? What does it do?”
It’s natural if your first response is to think hard about what you should be telling them about your organization.
But really, what you should be telling them is less important than what you should be finding out.
Two BIG Reasons to Ask More, Tell Less
Finding out who you’re talking with is just as important as actually answering their question, for two reasons.
One: This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. If you succeed at having a real conversation, then pretty soon you’ll want to invite that person to an event, send them information that’s useful to then, or ask them to give time or money.
Any of those “asks” will go better if you’ve done your homework first. Start your prospect research now.
Two: Answer the question they’re really asking right now. Every time a person asks, “So, what do you do?”, the underlying question is “Why should I care?” And the key word there is “I.”
Different people care about what you do for their own specific reasons. Think about the supporters you already have. Different issues, different populations, even different service delivery methods get some of your people excited…and leave others cold.
The person who is asking about your nonprofit for the first time might fit into any one of those categories of supporters. But which? It’s up to you to find out, so you can address exactly the thing that matters to them the most.
Using Donor Personas to Figure It Out
You can’t read the mind of the person who asked you about your nonprofit. True. And you aren’t going to get to know them intimately all in one conversation, either. But there’s a shortcut you can use when you’re figuring out how to answer their question.
Donor personas are portraits of the typical supporters of your organization. (Some people call these “marketing profiles,” but the idea is the same.)
Most organizations will find their supporters falling into at least two different profiles.
For example, if you’re a community-based environmental organization:
- Jan might thrill to the way you get her grandson involved in after-school activities for a good cause.
- Keri might think of you as the place that runs the community garden where she spends all her time.
As you start answering their question, remember that you have a mystery to solve: Is that new person you’re talking to a “Jan” or a “Keri”?
Finding that out won’t tell you precisely who that is, asking about your nonprofit. But it’s a really good step in the right direction.
Do you need help creating donor personas for your nonprofit? Could you use expert assistance crafting the questions that will tell you who you’re talking to?