Picture this. You’re putting together a huge fundraising campaign for your supporters, writing content for emails and calls to action for social media. You want to reach and connect with as many supporters as you possibly can.

What if I told you the way to do that was not general content that could apply to a variety of people, but rather content directed at one distinct individual? Target audience persona development narrows down your target audiences to specific people with faces, names, goals and challenges. Speaking directly to your nonprofit’s target audience personas through your marketing efforts will allow you to deeply engage with your supporters on a much more personal level.

What’s the Difference Between Target Audiences and Target Audience Personas?

A target audience persona outlines a typical member of a target audience. They are fictional representations rooted in behavioral data and knowledge that you’ve gained from getting to know your supporters on a personal level. You’ll use the data from your whole target audience to create a persona, but instead of having a range of demographics, behavioral tendencies and statistics, you’ll have one specific person to represent what you know about each of your main audiences.

Personas add richness to target audiences. Your target audience can tell you that women between the ages of 35 and 40 are likely donors for your school supplies drive, but a persona will tell you that these women are mothers with school-age children looking to help teach their kids about the power of helping others. Using this persona, you might put together a short video directed at children helping other children succeed in school for these mothers to show their families.

The Benefits of Developing Personas

A small group of people with faces, names and clear backgrounds, goals and challenges is much easier to consider and speak to than a vague list of data points. The benefit of knowing exactly who you’re talking to through your marketing can’t be emphasized enough.

Personas allow you to walk in your audience’s shoes and actively work to help them overcome challenges and achieve goals in regards to your nonprofit. Mobilize your supporters by considering their goals and challenges throughout the creation of your campaigns. Gear your marketing efforts toward initially engaging, building relationships with and ultimately driving your personas to action.

Target Audience Persona Development

To outline a persona, use any data you have on the demographics and habits/interests of your supporters combined with your own knowledge of your audience and what its members have in common. Generally, three personas should cover all of your target audiences. You don’t want to lose the benefits of speaking to a small, well-known group.

We put together an infographic walking through sections to get your persona development off to a great start.

Persona Checklist

Download the Target Audience Persona Checklist

Get an editable copy of our target audience persona checklist and modify it to meet your organization’s needs.

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Example Persona

Check out the persona below to see it in action. The example is from our platform demo, which uses a fictional nonprofit called Nature Knowledge.

Pamela Parent

Target audience persona


  • Office manager at a dental practice
  • Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Washington State University
  • Married to husband Joe
  • Two children, Matthew (15) and Kara (12)


  • Skews female
  • 35-50
  • Dual household income: $120,000
  • Living in a suburb of Seattle, Washington


  • Busy working mom who wants the best for her kids
  • Loves hiking and visiting national parks but doesn’t get outside too often
  • Recycles and generally cares about the environment
  • Heard about Nature Knowledge through her son’s science teacher

Her Goals

  • Find an after-school program for her children, preferably one where she doesn’t have to drive long distances to pick them up
  • Instill an appreciation of nature in her children

Her Challenges

  • Her children are different ages and in different grades
  • Many after-school programs are expensive or don’t seem to be very engaging
  • Her children want something fun, but she’d like the program to also be educational
  • She’s busy with work and parenting and doesn’t have a lot of time to vet programs

How Nature Knowledge Helps

  • Our Living Classrooms is an educational, interactive and fun program available for students age 12-16
  • Transports children to national parks to learn firsthand
  • Works with local schools
  • Employs environmental experts to keep programs educational
  • Takes children’s safety seriously with carefully considered precautions
  • Programs are affordable

Common Objections to Nature Knowledge

  • I had no idea these programs existed.
  • I didn’t realize the programs were open to multiple grades.
  • My kids can learn about the environment and natural science in school.

Elevator Pitch

Let your kids get outside, experience the wonders of our national parks and learn environmental science from the experts through our educational and interactive after-school programs.

By using a target audience persona like this one, your nonprofit will be able to better address the challenges and goals of its key audience members. So get out there and start your nonprofit’s persona development!

Does your nonprofit use target audience personas to guide your marketing efforts? What was your persona development process? Let’s talk tips, tricks and strategy in the comments!


  1. This is definitely ideal as a visual aid, given that seeing is believing. Adding character to the audience will greatly enhance the understanding of the core audience and how to effectively market. Thanks for the great idea!


  2. This is a very interesting idea and gives me a sense of how marketing companies develop successful products promos and finally the sale of the same. Notwithstanding the idea presented here for non-profits but, to me, the technique is useful for all sectors (public, private, development, corporate, banking etc.). Thanks.

  3. Hello! I am a college student from Portugal, and on my Webdesign discipline I have to create a persona for an hypothetical product, this post helped A LOT understanding how to create one. 😀
    Thank you very much Christine!

    • That’s awesome, Francis! Personally, I’ve found using personas to be incredibly helpful in nonprofit marketing. The more specific you can be through your marketing, the better.

  4. Currently taking Social Media Advertising at UC Boulder, and I found this so helpful, was about to make an assessment and report for my chosen topic Targeting parameters. Even though this was posted 3 years ago and the market has changed a lot since then, this is, and will still be a huge help in developing those personas. Connection to the customers is more better rather than just thinking of the profit as it should be in harmony. Thanks Christine!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Laurence. And I’m with you — understanding your potential clients/supporters is an essential part of growing those relationships. I’m happy we were able to help you out with your assignment! Best of luck with the rest of your class!

  5. I love this idea! Definitely going to implement this into my new social media strategies. Thanks!