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What Customers Philanthropy Tells You About Their Buyer Persona

How well do you know your customers:

The Seven Faces of PhilanthropyIn The Seven Faces of Philanthropy, authors Russ Prince and Karen File have organized philanthropists into seven personality groups of personas.  The objective is to group donors who are similar in the ways that they give, helping nonprofits better understand how to best connect with them. 

These philanthropists are not just donors to nonprofits but customers to your business. If you clearly understand the motivations of customers as donors, the odds are much better that you can develop a more robust relationship with your business.  

So, what are the seven types of philanthropists and what are their motivations? Do you know what your customers philanthropy tells you about their Buyer Persona?


1. Communitarians: "Doing Good Makes Sense"

  • Have local history, roots and giving
  • May have been born there/interested in their community
  • Success tied to success of community
  • Philanthropy is exchange—good for their business
  • Typically serve on board
  • Like accountability on how money is spent
  • Appreciate recognition—want name on room, community signs
  • Gives across the board to lots of local groups

2. Devout: "Doing Good is God's Will"

  • Practice proportionate giving
  • 96% of giving is focused on religion
  • Supports outreach and mission work
  • Acts on faith in institutions
  • Moral obligation to give
  • Don’t want to be recognized
  • Believes everyone should be treated the same
  • Seeks little control on how money is spent
  • Not interested in being on board

3. Investors: “Doing Good Is Good Business”

  • Gives carefully after investigation
  • Looks for measurable returns on investment
  • Philanthropy is a business relationship
  • Tax avoidance is a high motivator
  • Not seen as charitable gift
  • Looks at giving as optional
  • Tends not to have high influence on organization
  • Important to determine who does ask
  • Prospect for anyone who can show bottom line/results
  • Most likely to be interested in planned gifts
  • Likes some recognition

4. Socialites: “Doing Good Is Fun”

  • Motivated by creativity of event planning
  • Fundraisers, not donors
  • Looks at social circles
  • Put them to work on event fundraisers
  • Have the best events/new creative ways to get people to give
  • Follow-up with people brought to events
  • Like to be honored among their social network
  • Expect sterling reputation
  • Want special status/attention from the staff
  • Wants to be host

5. Altruists: “Doing Good Feels Right”

  • Genuine selfless donor
  • Spontaneous donors
  • Often social organizations
  • Believe wealthy have obligation to give
  • Not influenced by others
  • Prefer to be anonymous
  • Emphasize quality of life
  • Rarely serve on Board
  • Can respond to direct mail/personal contact
  • Direct service volunteers often are here

6. Repayers: “Doing Good In Return”

  • Response to life-changing experience
  • Focused giving
  • Benefit first, then philanthropic response
  • Emphasis on results and beneficiaries
  • Like low involvement in organization
  • Doesn't seek attention
  • Feel that philanthropic dollar is more valuable than government dollar

7. Dynasts: “Doing Good Is A Family Tradition

  • Philanthropy is a strong family value
  • Generational differences
  • Most careful and selective of all
  • Focus on core mission of institution
  • Will use outside advisors
  • Current group not necessarily following family's traditional groups
  • Doesn't seek formal recognition for gifts
  • Like to help economically disadvantage

It is helpful for your Marketing Officers to understand the donor types so that they can watch and listen for clues, and meet the prospective customer's emotional needs as you create your outreach strategy.  Instead of using a ‘one size fits all’ approach, you can craft messages that resonate best with each particular group.  

 Want to know more about Buyer Personas? 

Download Ebook: How To Create Buyer Personas


Jonathan Reeves

I am an experienced nonprofit professional, skilled in Fundraising, Marketing, and Development. When it comes to advancing your organizations mission and outreach, I go the distance, using every networking tool available to reach the target demographic. When not working for a nonprofit or other business, I use my skills to advance historic and genealogical research for individuals, organizations, and anyone looking to know more about the past.

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