112: Creating Donor Personas and Why They Matter with Priscilla McKinney

This episode is sponsored by:

watch on youtube


“There has been too many years where too many non-profits tried to glorify just that end impact without the story… and unfortunately, what it did was it created a certain type of donor… So, when we do tell the story, we do need to really show that it is archetypical and that results may vary.”

Priscilla McKinney
Episode #112


In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…

Looking to increase donor trust and recruit more aligned donors to your non-profit? The key lies in your marketing. That might sound obvious, but non-profit marketing goes deep. So, let’s dive in. 

Priscilla McKinney, CEO of Little Bird Marketing, is a sought-after keynote speaker, prolific blogger, podcast host, industry innovator, and diversity champion. She personifies creativity, entrepreneurship, and authentic leadership – inspiring others to carve out their own path to success. With a fiery passion for marketing and sustainable lead generation, Priscilla has quite a few gems of wisdom to share with you about fundraising for non-profit organizations.

In this episode, Priscilla shares powerful insights on defining your donor persona, finding balance between operational transparency and storytelling, and getting out of the harmful scarcity mindset that runs rampant in the non-profit sector.

You’ll learn how to connect to your ideal donors en masse, the reality of how the scarcity mindset is impacting your non-profit, and why you don’t need to be as transparent with donors about certain things but you definitely need to be open about others.


Priscilla McKinney


  • Donor Persona Template
  • Many thanks to our sponsor, Neon One for making this episode possible. When it comes to building strong and stable organizations, it’s all about a connected generosity experience. Our partners at Neon One have built software that makes it easier for you to connect with people and grow a community of generosity. Check them out at neonone.com/mallory today!
  • If you haven’t already, please visit our new What the Fundraising community forum. Check it out and join the conversation at this link.
  • If you’re looking to raise more from the right funders, then you’ll want to check out my Power Partners Formula, a step-by-step approach to identifying the optimal partners for your organization. This free masterclass offers a great starting point

Brought To
you By:




Get to know Priscilla McKinney:

Priscilla McKinney, CEO of Little Bird Marketing, is a popular keynote speaker, prolific blogger, podcast host, industry innovator and diversity champion. Best known for making waves in the digital marketing industry, Priscilla has been featured on numerous podcasts, is the President of American Advertising Federation Heartland and has received numerous design, entrepreneurship and industry awards. Along with her expert team, she developed the SOAR System – a proprietary process designed to create sustainable lead generation for busy leaders so they can have confidence in the growth of their company without losing focus on their other responsibilities. Priscilla personifies creativity, entrepreneurship and authentic leadership – inspiring others to truly carve out their own path of success in her uniquely funny, no-nonsense and slightly irreverent way. Oh, and don’t give her caffeine. She doesn’t need it.


Other episodes you would enjoy



I teach nonprofit fundraisers to bring in more gifts from the RIGHT donors… so they can stop hounding people for money. Fundraising doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.


episode transcript

01:15 Mallory Erickson: Welcome everyone. I’m so excited to be here today with Priscilla McKinney. Priscilla, welcome to What the Fundraising. 

01:22 Priscilla McKinney: Mallory, this has been really fun getting to know you over the last couple of months, so I’m so excited to be on your podcast and it’s so funny as a podcaster, as you know, to be on a podcast. So, thanks for having me. 

01:34 Mallory Erickson: I know it makes it feel so natural and normal though that we just get to like chat, and it was so fun to be on your show. Why don’t you just start by telling everyone a little bit about you and what you do, and then we’ll dive in? 

01:46 Priscilla McKinney: Sure. So, I’m a weirdo. I’m one of those people who just make very strange connections, and I think that’s when you put me in a room with people and lock me in and say, what is it that I can’t help but do? I’m going to figure out how the people in that room just have some kind of crazy, like native genius and it’s going to solve a major problem. So, I’m a collaborator at heart. I come from a big family. I’ve done puppet shows in my past. So, let’s just start with that. But I bring all this crazy cultural experience growing up overseas. And belonging to a really big family gang with me into what I do right now as the CEO of a digital marketing agency. And I am so excited every day to get up and think about how do I help another client just move the ball of their company and their dream just one, one little step further. Like you, you got to do them in small increments. But I get totally excited about that and I kind of funnily introduce myself as a CEO of a sleep improvement agency because I like for my clients to sleep at night. 

02:58 Mallory Erickson: Oh my gosh. I love that. What do you think are some of the top things that help your clients sleep better at night? 

03:06 Priscilla McKinney: Well, I would say the first one is that they know that I’m so excited and pumped about their vision. I listen and I’m an entrepreneur myself, and so I make that connection with them like I’m trying to advance my company, make no bones about it. So how do we advance yours? And I make that tie to revenue. And I don’t think all agency work does that. So, I think that’s the first place that I connect. And then I think the next place is that my team is so good about standard operating procedures, and you think is in contrast to creative work. But let me tell you what is not. There are standard operating procedures that really relieve your wonderfully creative team of the tedious work of what needs to be done correctly every time on digital stuff so that they can think about cool, creative things. And in all of those standard operating procedures and systems and checklists and our checklists have checklists, inside of all that our customers are sleeping at night because they can transparently see that. We report everything on a transparent project management board. And so, for example, if I were to say, I’m almost done with that blog. They would be able to see, is she on step 3 of 52, or is she on step 51 of 52? What does she mean by almost done? And so, because they can see that for themselves, there’s no way that we can be doing something different than what we’re reporting, and they can see transparently what we’re saying. And so, I think that’s the other piece where they really start getting good sleep. 

04:36 Mallory Erickson: You know, it’s interesting, you’re talking about something that I did not expect to talk about today necessarily, but has been at the top of my mind recently, which is about operational transparency. So, inside the nonprofit sector, there’s a lot of, there are a few themes that relate to this. One is, there’s a big conversation about trust and donor trust, or the lack of donor trust, and how to increase donor trust. But there’s also a lot of perfectionism inside the sector where we start to think that donor trust is about how we show an end result of something. And I’ve been fascinated to learn more about the way that businesses create trust by creating operational transparency. Things like, when Lyft walks you through all of the steps of getting that car to you and getting your car to that destination. And so, thinking about how nonprofits can do that too in their work. And that it sounds like is a big part of your business model also, that creates a lot of trust and collaboration, and safety felt by your clients because they have that operational transparency. 

05:44 Priscilla McKinney: Yes. But this is why I think you get paid the big bucks too, to do what you do because there is only so much about making the sausage that people want to know. There is a limit. And sometimes I think people, non-profits and businesses, and agencies included start getting into too much minutia about what’s going on operationally, and they lose the plot. The plot about why I’m telling you what is going on operationally is only there to serve, why it’s important to you, why they should care. Which is what we’re talking about today, which is know your audience, right? And so, I would say this is true in your world and my world alike. No matter if you’re talking with a nonprofit who’s trying to disclose transparently to a donor and say, look, this is how we go about doing this and how we deliver, and it matters. But it only matters up to a certain point. Then they want to be free. They’re happy to give their money away, but they do have to have a certain amount in order to care and relate it to who they are. So, for example, if my clients really wanted to know how to make all of the marketing sausage, they would do it themselves. But they do want to get that trust by getting enough information and enough transparency so that they feel in control. But once they do feel in control, they want you to quit telling them the detail. They seriously want you to shut up and do the job. 

07:12 Mallory Erickson: Yeah. And maybe that’s the difference between saying like, here’s what step I am in writing this blog versus here’s how I’m writing this blog, and all the things I’ve thought about, and all the different things I’ve researched. That is a really, really helpful framing. And it brings us to maybe the higher-level conversation here, which is around storytelling. The connection between storytelling and some of these more inside peaks, or inside looks at what’s happening behind the scene. So, when you’re thinking about that from a marketing perspective, how do you find that balance? 

07:46 Priscilla McKinney: Well, I think it is about what we were talking about. And that people don’t necessarily want to look inside. They want to know that they can look inside. And I find that we have this system and my source system. And listen, it doesn’t matter what agency system, like my system is not important, but for our clients, they come to us specifically because we do have a point of view and we do have a system that we’re going to be held accountable to, and we share that with them openly. And so, they understand that it’s there and that they can take a look at any time. But if I pulled, took that away, then all of it would fall apart. So, I guess for me it’s more about the structure that builds the trust, not that they’re going to need to look over your shoulder all the time. 

08:34 Mallory Erickson: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It’s been interesting with nonprofit because the impact can sometimes have such a long runway, right? We’re talking about solving big problems that donors can get excited when they are let in a little bit behind the scenes through a storytelling lens, not through a like, and then we had to email this person, and then we did this thing. But through exactly what you said, through this connection to why am I telling you this, why do you care about this element of this story? And then they get this behind the scenes look of you’re helping us create educational opportunities in this particular location, part of that involves us getting computers. So, let’s tell you about, let’s take you behind the scenes with video, with some other fun, creative, to really show you the steps of ultimately achieving this goal, which involves changing education access in this region, which is a big vision. 

09:34 Priscilla McKinney: Yeah, and I would add that this is why your type of work is so key. Because I think there has been too many years where too many nonprofits tried to glorify just that end impact without the story of how long it takes. And unfortunately, what that did was it created a certain type of donor, and probably a certain type of donor that nobody wanted in the end of the. And so, when you actually treat people like the smart people that they are and explain, yeah, it’s a long and winding road and it doesn’t just happen because this computer was bought, therefore this life has changed. Everybody knows that life is more complicated than that. And so, when we do tell the story, we do need to really show that it is archetypical and that results may vary. That one computer does not mean that this kid is saved out of poverty. No, it’s just one small element. And I’m not inviting you to save a kid out of poverty, I’m inviting you to be involved in one small element because your life will be changed by you trying to be honest about what you’re doing. You’re just doing one small thing toward this, toward this, right? I love nonprofit world, so I totally get where you’re coming from and I kind of love your whole job. But I think there are just so many direct connects to B2B, digital marketing that I do, and storytelling. It is the same thing and people are complicated and no business owner should be treated in a way to say, and if we do this one thing, this is the silver bullet, and then that’s how you get revenue. Entrepreneurs are going, yeah, no, it doesn’t work like that.  

11:12 Mallory Erickson: Right. A million dollars. 

11:13 Priscilla McKinney: Humans are complicated, so let’s keep it complicated. And I get that story is a paring down, but it’s not a getting rid of all of the complexities. 

11:24 Mallory Erickson: Okay. I love where you are taking this, and I have a feeling that one of the things we really want to talk about today is personas and thinking about the way that you teach and do personas and how that applies to how nonprofits can think about donor personas. And I’m wondering if that is part of how we pair down, like if that’s almost what allows us to pare down the nuance into some key elements that drive towards that engagement. 

11:54 Priscilla McKinney: Yeah, a hundred percent. Listen, there’s 8 billion people on the planet. You can’t write a different marketing message for each one of them. Already not possible. So therefore, what do we do? Well, people oftentimes will try and come to the lowest common denominator, which is just slap a salesy pitch on it. And we know that we don’t want to be there either, but where could we live in between? There has to be a positive in between that works, right? And so, persona work is definitely the most amount of personalization of a message and meaningful message you can get out without it being one-on-one. Because listen, we can’t create real change. People involved in nonprofits, they’re impatient for real change. And so, we love relationship building in donor activation, we love the one-on-one, but in order to get things funded, we’re going to have to go much bigger. Is it one on a hundred? Is it one on a thousand? Is it one on a million? I don’t know what someone’s donor relationship potential looks like. But somewhere on the spectrum of personalization, we have to land on an approach where we can write something that is meaningful, that is truly in alignment with our core values and our core goal of the foundation and speaks to somebody who has the means and the will to connect and help us get there. And so, we don’t want to waste resources. And people in foundations and in nonprofits of all people have less typically to waste trying to get to anyone and everyone. And so, I guess the persona message I would give you at the beginning is that when people say that they’re trying to reach anyone and everyone, I’m telling you right now, that means you are reaching no one.

13:44 Mallory Erickson: Okay. I want to dig into this. Can we define, before we get too deep, can you define persona for folks who are coming to this and they’re like, I don’t necessarily know what we mean when we say persona? Can you give us the 101? 

13:57 Priscilla McKinney: Absolutely. I so do not like jargon. So, if I say anything in here that is an acronym or jargon, make me stop. Some people call it an ideal client persona and they’ll say ICP. Some people call it a buyer avatar, a buyer persona, an ideal client persona. I mean, there’s all different ways of looking at it. But the point is, is that, it is supposed to be a heuristic or some kind of shortcut in that way of looking at your audience and saying, are there meaningful segmentations within my audience? Because your audience might just be one type. So, for example, I’ll use a really good nonprofit for example, is that sometimes they’re looking for business owners or strategic partners and they’re looking for individual donors. Or maybe a third one, very common, would be, I’m looking for legacy like people to put us in their will. Those are three very different approaches, which honestly, almost every nonprofit would have probably some versions of those three. There are different people that you need in your donor portfolio, but the message that is going to be received by one of those is going to be meaningless to the other one. And so, a persona is a way that we have in marketing and in refining our messages, and really loving our audience where we take the time and instead of looking inward and naval gazing as many companies and nonprofits do, we are so amazing, we do this in this way and nobody’s ever done this before and we’ve been around since 1999. And they just talk about themselves and themselves and themselves. It’s like, let us tell you what we do and how we do it, and we’re so unique. And look at the snowflake. And then you turn around and you have no donors.  A persona development is an investment in saying, hey, we’re not as important. Our thing is not as important as your thing. Why would you like to be involved in this goal? 

15:53 Priscilla McKinney: And so, what we do, the persona then is an avatar, an archetype if you will. An attempt a painting may be a little bit broader of a stroke to encapsulate the challenges, roles, things that somebody would say, how could I find a grouping of people who all kind of are the same? Do you remember Sesame Street? Like, which one of these things does not belong? And so, it’s about grouping people, not to minimize their differences, but to amplify their similarities. Where I could say, hey, I know Priscilla and Mallory are different people, but they’re probably coming to our organization for the same reason. So let me figure out what do they have in common so I could craft one message to Mallory and Priscilla and they would both go, yeah, I’m in. And so, take that to two people to, can you find a bucket of 6,000 people who kind of all have, are coming to your organization for the same reason? And you can write the same script to them. And all of them go, yeah, I’m in. 

16:57 Mallory Erickson: Okay. I love thinking about this and I’m curious. I think when people think persona, the first thing they jump to is demographic. And what I’m hearing in what you’re saying is much more around what are the unifying beliefs, perspectives, desires of this group of people as opposed to these are women between the age of 35 and 45. So, can you talk to me about a little bit about the relationship between those things? 

17:33 Priscilla McKinney: Yeah, a hundred percent. When you are starting a persona, and we do have a freebie template, so I’m happy to give you that link and nobody needs to ever work with us. But please do your persona work. And you can use mine or you can find a lot of them online. Some of them are great, some of them are crappy, but you’ll find something. But the important thing is to get started doing it. But when we talk about like roles or demographics, I’m not saying don’t do that. It’s not that that doesn’t matter. It matters to fewer businesses or fewer organizations than you might think. But it might help you to start thinking about it, kind of grasping the concept. But where I like to really start is, yeah, do the basic information. So, you’re all kind of warmed up in this little icebreaker. But I want to move pretty quickly into why do they care? Like what do they care about? What is keeping this group of people up at night? What is making them upset on a Sunday night? And what is getting them up on a Monday morning, giving them purpose? These are what we would call more psychographics. What is the internal condition of this person? So, to put it kind of in your world, if someone is interested in education for young children, why? What are the commonalities there?

18:47 Priscilla McKinney: Are they people who maybe came from maybe impoverished background and so they feel the importance of education? Or maybe they were people who were educated by educators and they also know the importance of education, like they had it drilled into them. So, if you look at demographics for those two people, or even socioeconomic realities for those two people, you wouldn’t put them in the same bucket. But if you start from the, they’re motivated by the desire and the belief, a firm belief that everybody deserves the very best education they could have, that is better to put them into the same bucket. If you put them in a demographic or socioeconomic division, you would not have them in the same persona. And yet the message that I could write to them is definitely, I would play on the, do you believe that it is someone’s fundamental right to have the very best education that is absolutely possible in their world? Well, that gets two very demographically separated people excited to give, to volunteer, to advocate all the things that we need as a donor. And so, I’m just saying, yes, people go gloss it like really quick with a demographics and it might be meaningful, but if it’s not meaningful, move on very quickly and ask things like what’s keeping them up at night? What’s getting them up in the morning? I also like thinking about, who are they trying to impress? Or I like thinking about, what would they not be willing to say out loud, but they think? 

20:18 Priscilla McKinney: Like for example, we kind of come back to education. I’d like to know, like people say, let’s just say the education system is failing us. Okay, well that’s an interesting psychographic. I would write a very different message to someone who thought that government education system is failing us as opposed to someone who thinks that the government education is doing an amazing job and needs to be uplifted. So, that to me is a very critical thing to dive into if I were looking at developing personas and developing, crafting, resonating messages, if I had an education based nonprofit. 

20:53 Mallory Erickson: Okay. So, I just recently did a webinar. I don’t even remember what the topic of the webinar was, but at some point, I asked something like, why do your donors give to your organization, in the chat. And flooding in came, they believe in the mission. They believe in the mission. They believe in the mission. They believe in the mission. They believe in the mission. Without more drilling down around, I think this piece that you’re hitting on, which is that our orientation towards the mission and the work of an organization can be coming from different places. And I worry sometimes our mission statements are also really similar. So, if we say they’re here for the mission, it doesn’t really answer the question to me around why are they supporting you versus that other organization that has a similar overarching mission statement. So how do you help folks who might be stuck in that really like high level persona and get them to be more specific around what you said at the very beginning around that deeper value alignment or what makes their organization unique? 

22:10 Priscilla McKinney: Yeah. Well, gosh, that’s really tough because honestly, we all get happy ears and we oh, what is the person going to say. When we ask a question in one way, why do you work with us? Oh, I believe in your mission. It’s a shortcut, right? I’m going to tell you what I know you want me to say, because I believe in your mission. I’m, of course I’m supporting it. So of course, why wouldn’t I believe in the mission? Of course, that’s what you’re asking me. But if I were to be invited into a more qualitative moment, what you might discover is, for example, you know, we work with some Afghan refugees in our local community. Okay, well ask me why. Oh, because I believe in your mission. Okay. Get me in a room and really ask me why, I’ll tell you. Well, because some days I feel like shit about my privilege, and then I might also tell you, I look at my boys, it’s going to make me cry. This is where you start hearing from people. I’m like, I look at my boys and my daughter sometimes and I think, oh my God, what if I was stuck. What would I do for these kids? I’m overwhelmed sometimes with this sense of gratitude for what I have, and I don’t know what to do with that feeling. You might come along and now your mission is to help Afghan refugees. And I go, yeah, it’s because I love your mission. No, it’s not. It’s because I got real problems about my own privilege. So, maybe you could start talking to me about that. And so, you would say, well, how do we get to that? We have to remember that persona work comes from a listening to our very best donors. And so, while the end goal is to paint a broad stroke and get a good segmentation and say, okay, I know about 6,000 people are in this group who feel this way. But you do have to do individual work in order to start really listening to people’s stories about what motivates them to work with your brand, with your organization. 

24:04 Priscilla McKinney: And you can’t then extrapolate, oh, well Priscilla feels guilty, so let’s start making messages about feeling guilty. No. But it does help you inform and say, okay, well, how can we, I’m not going to go create an email now. I know you feel guilty, so give a thousand dollars. You know, I mean, it would be so inappropriate, but it does come from a place of empathy for me as a donor. Like, let me understand what’s hurting Priscilla and why she wants to get rid of some of this money that she feels she has an excess. Let me understand that a little bit, walk alongside her a little bit, and then I can say, well, what does satisfy that for you? And of course, you know, if you ask, do you believe in our mission? I’m going to say, I believe in your mission. But if you say, what’s keeping you up at night? I’ll be like, pictures of refugees online. That’s a very, you asked me a very different question. You’re going to get a very different answer. And so, I think, you know, a lot of times organizations start with persona work and say, well, based on our survey, and this is what our people are telling us. You need to think about how you asked the question. Do you remember the Douglas Adams book, Life, the Universe and Everything, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, remember this? 

25:11 Mallory Erickson: Yes. 

25:11 Priscilla McKinney: And they programmed the question, what is the answer to the Life, Universe and everything? And you know, it took hundreds of years to calculate it and the answer came back and it was 42, and everybody who was there was like, oh my gosh, this is the answer. Nobody remembered how they phrased the question. So, the answer was now meaningless. Computer had spent hundreds of years calculating this. Now we have the answer. What was the question? And I feel like with persona work, that’s people live all the time, they ask dumb questions really to people who are donating to them or to their customers, that are very leading and provide poor insights into what really motivates them.

25:52 Mallory Erickson: Who? Okay. 

25:55 Priscilla McKinney: You can tell I’m a digital marketer that serves the market research industry. Okay. Also, I’m a cultural anthropologist by training, so. 

26:05 Mallory Erickson: Are you? Oh my gosh. That was like my dream job when I was in college. I was like, I’m going to be an anthropologist. 

26:12 Priscilla McKinney: Well, this is what it looks like. 

26:15 Mallory Erickson: Okay. Well, so I am an anthropologist, is what you’re telling me.

26:18 Priscilla McKinney: Exactly. You very much are. Yes. 

26:22 Mallory Erickson: Okay, so what I’m so curious about is, I’m not sure how much you face this in your work, but one of the things in the nonprofit sector that I’m sure you’re familiar with is just the rampant scarcity mindset across the sector. And so much of that is because of the structural inequities and the way that funding cycles happen, and the way that we’re constantly talking about it being a scarce environment. There are all these things that impact it. In doing so, like living in a scarcity environment for these fundraisers and these nonprofit leaders, their nervous systems are activated a lot of the time. And because of that, they face a lot of perfectionism, a lot of people pleasing, a lot of tendencies that we tend to embody when we feel overwhelmed and scarcity. From my perspective, those reality for these fundraisers really interrupts their ability to hear and to listen and that they can maybe ask the questions, but they can’t really, like empathy requires us to be, in my opinion, in a more grounded state. We can’t really be truly empathetic to somebody else’s perspective if we are so consumed with worry around what’s happening in our perspective. And so, I’m curious if you have suggestions for folks or practices you use with people to really help them be able to activate what’s necessary inside themselves to really hear the answers that they’re asking for. 

28:10 Priscilla McKinney: Wow, that’s crazy. And I don’t think that anything in my professional career really has prepared me for that. But I will tell you, like I mentioned, I grew up in a gang. We were a bunch of missionary kids. And if you want to talk about the opportunity for scarcity mindset, grow up on the mission field. Has everybody sent you secondhand things and have everybody tell you constantly how you poor kids, and you poor thing, and all this kind of stuff, and you’re going, what? I’m not a poor kid. Yeah, we didn’t have much money, but I grew up in Europe and I went to the 28:40 whenever I wanted to. So, how did I ever think I was, you know, poor. My parents were smart and they were history buffs. And neither one of them graduated from college and they moved a family across the world with five female teenagers. They were so counter culture and I did not feel like I did not have a rich childhood. And yet we didn’t have any money. And so, I saw this crazy, stupid, debilitating scarcity mindset all over my world, and I decided I would not choose it. And it is a choice, and it is something that I think in terms of organizations and nonprofit organizations, it has to start from the top. You cannot think that you are going to motivate your employees to do more and get more out of your donors by making your employees feel like they’re in nervous wrecks, scarcity mode all the time. And that somehow is going to trickle down and they’re going to tell all the people, oh my God, if we don’t get this money by noon today, then blah, blah.

29:41 Priscilla McKinney: This kind of mentality. Yes, I get that it works, which is why people do it, but it’s not good for anybody. And it’s not good for the leader. It’s not good for the volunteer or the paid employee. It’s not good for the donor, and I would argue ultimately it is not good for the recipient because if you think that that money does not arrive without that scarcity mentality, then you are out of your mind. I think that it is a little bit more of a spiritual issue, maybe a soul issue, but how you do anything is how you do everything. And I really, really agree with that and I want that belief then to trickle into how we operate, like actually standard operating procedures. Like, what if you started a campaign saying, hey, we already have enough. We already have what we need, now we’re going to invite other people to participate and get to be involved. And I’ll tell you one other personal story, and I hope this maybe hits someone the right way and maybe they could start making this shift. But for me, you know, I remember, you know there’s always talk, missionary families, and you have to literally go work three or four years living where you live and then you have to take one year off. Get this. This is how missions works across the world. You take a year off, you move your whole family, upset all of your children, move them out of schools, move your family back home into a country they have not lived in as children for the last, and probably don’t speak that same language as well. And you move them back for a year in order to go, what we call itinerary. And go around and what other people would say, beg for money. Because you’ve got to come back and tell the stories and do all the stuff and everything in dog and pony show. Believe me, this is why I did puppet shows, right? 

31:21 Priscilla McKinney: So you have to come back and prove your worth, and then you get to raise all your money and you get to go back and do it. And so, this kind of system is where then I’m back home in the US and being called poor, and I’m thinking, my friends that are 16 who’ve never even been to a museum, like they don’t even know, like, world class art. You know, I’m thinking, I don’t know who’s poor in this scenario. So, it’s like such a weird juxtaposition. But if people could hear me out about this, you know, people talk about coming and saying, oh yes, and then we’ll take up an offering and we’ll give to you in this cause and everything. I’m thinking, you don’t need to, like, we’re good. And if you want to be involved in something, then you can, that’d be cool. If this would add to your life and you’d be like, oh my gosh, I’m behind them and this is what I’m, I believe in this and so I’m making this happen. I feel like I would’ve rather invite people to say, I’m giving you something valuable. I’m sorry this is so long, but I’m going to make this another point. My brother-in-law and sister run an NGO out of El Salvador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Nepal. Like all over the world. Right? And it’s large now, but it wasn’t always large. And within my family, I feel such an insane privilege. I am front row with popcorn to an agency that is making economic massive impact in poor communities. And I feel so freaking privileged. I could call them and say, hey, I want to come next week and I want to do this, or I want to do this part of this program. Or, hey, you know what, this year I’m going to commit X number of dollars to this, guys make it work. And I feel so lucky to be connected to people that I love and trust, who I know are doing amazing work. And I feel so bad for people who are far away from an organization and don’t get to see as close up as I see the people and the impact and the hard work. So, for me, it is a privilege to go online and make that donation. Every time I finish, I’m like, that’s so cool, they’re willing to go do that. I mean, I am not going to go spend another week down in that temperature. I’m just, listen, I’m a wuss. And I’m like, I love what you’re doing. I’m so down with it. I love giving micro loans to women and making a difference in families and doing home gardens.

33:40 Priscilla McKinney: I’m just like, oh my God, I love this so much. And the people locally who started this Afghan thing, I’m like, oh, thank you for doing that. In my heart of hearts, I want to do that, but I’m so busy being my CEO that I can’t, but oh my gosh, what do you need? I feel so lucky to be able to write that check. And I think if people started talking like that from the top down of an organization, that’s the kind of bait you use for your donor. That’s the kind of fish you would get. That’s the kind of donor you would get. 

34:06 Mallory Erickson: Oh my gosh. I love all of that advice. So, thank you so much for this conversation today. There are so many takeaways for folks, and I will link to the donor persona worksheet as well. Where else should folks go to find you? 

34:20 Priscilla McKinney: I am always on LinkedIn, so Priscilla McKinney, find me there. And yeah, I’ll pass over those resources, but Littlebirdmarketing.com/resources. I have so much free stuff out there. I am not a salesy person. I will not chase you down. Just take what free guides you want there. Nonprofits are in that situation where they need sometimes just some fundamentals. There’s so much there for you, so go and take it.

34:43 Mallory Erickson: Amazing. Thank you so much.

34:51 Mallory Erickson: All right. There is so much inside this episode, but here are a few of my top take aways. 

Number one, operational transparency can increase donor trust, but you want to make sure you don’t lose sight of why you’re being transparent in the first place, and it should always come back to the power of storytelling in some way.

Number two, defining your donor persona requires an approach to personalization that is meaningful, aligned with your core values and goals, and speaks to people who have the means and the will and the interest to get involved. 

Number three, connecting with your donor personas requires spreading as much of a meaningful message as you can without it being one-to-one. Your message needs to hit and resonate with multiple potential donors. If you’re saying you’re trying to reach anyone and everyone, you’re actually reaching. 

Number four, donors give to your organization because they obviously believe in your mission, but why are they supporting your organization over another organization with a similar mission? Answering this question helps you get more specific about your donor personas too. 

Okay. For additional takeaways and tips inside this episode, head on over to malloryerickson.com/podcast to grab the full show notes and resources now. 

You’ll also find more information there about Priscilla and our amazing sponsor, Neon One. Thank you for spending this time with us today. If you enjoyed this episode, we would love it if you would give it a rating and review and share it with a friend. I’m so grateful for all of my listeners and the good, hard work you’re doing to make our world a better place. 

And if you miss me between episodes, stop by and say hello on Instagram under whatthefundraising_ 

Have a great day and I’ll see you next week.

Scroll to Top


Just put in your name and email to let the magic begin….

You're one step away from getting my favorite tools!

Just put in your name and email to let the magic begin….