Getting to Know Your Target Audience

“Getting to know your supporters, volunteers, clients and other participants in your mission is easy, if you build that listening and learning into your everyday work.” Kivi Leroux Miller

I know a lot of people think ‘putting together the puzzle pieces’ is a hackneyed term. Beyond the fact that our logo is constructed around a puzzle piece, I think it is apropos to organizations trying to get above the noise in the marketplace to build awareness and raise funds.

What do I mean putting together the puzzle pieces? Reaching out and building better relationships by understanding and knowing your target audiences.

There is no question that knowing your target audiences is the most essential aspect of your nonprofit’s marketing communications and fundraising. Nonprofit marketing guru Kivi Leroux Miller goes so far as to call knowing your target audience the Number 1 Rule in Nonprofit Marketing.

And, I agree.

That said, Kivi also provided some easy to do suggestions on how to know your audience. These appeared in her Nonprofit Marketing Tips on July 12, 2011:

  • Be curious, all the time
  • Formalize that curiosity
  • Convene Informal Focus Groups
  • Conduct an Online Survey

I would like to add to Kivi’s suggestions:

  • Create a CRM database and really use it. Take notes on what you learn. Be sure and qualify how you received a gift, e.g., direct mail, social media posting, personalized letters or special events.
  • Invite board members, key donors and volunteers to sit around the table and discuss your mission, programs and services. Ask what they see as important to each of them.
  • Take that information to craft messages to reach out to current donors, sponsors and prospects.
  • Provide “Invite a Friend” programs to your members. Ask each to invite their friends and family to join them to support you. Be sure and provide meaningful information about what you do and how you touch the community.
  • Consider reaching out to the business community and elected officials to show how you make an impact. Be sure and figure the economic impact of your programs. Gauge their interest and learn how they like to receive information.

Be sure and use this knowledge as you build your marketing communications program. I’ve created a template based on my experiences. There are some excellent templates that can be accessed through a key word search.

The key is to personalize to your organization and keep the plan updated as you learn more and more about your target audiences.

If you’d like a copy of my strategic communications template, please contact me at