Do You Know Your Ideal Supporter? Do They Like Borscht?

Guest post by Peter Gulka, Consultant for Blackbaud’s Arts & Cutlural Solutions.


As a person of Ukranian heritage, I am often asked “Hey – do you like borscht???”

If you’re unaware, borscht is a traditional Ukranian soup made from beets. Whenever I’m asked, I immediately get uncomfortable and try (usually in vain) to explain that no one likes borscht.

No one.

We feel we should like it, heritage and what-not, but really borscht was invented at a time when the only alternative was rocks. (This is completely made up, but I hate borcht so much that it might as well be true.)

Beets or rocks – which would you choose to eat?

Now, people all over the world order borscht thinking it is some sort of delicacy and that they should like it too, all the while gritting their teeth, but smiling politely and saying “Oh – it’s great!”

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there are actually people who really and truly like it. They eat it on purpose,enjoy every second of it, and rave to their friends about it.

Let’s say you are a non-profit whose mission is to preserve and promote the heritage of borscht as a Ukranian delicacy.

Who are you going to ask for donations?

Are you going to try and convince everyone you see that borcht is awesome and they should support your cause to promote the production of even MORE of this delicacy? Unlikely…

But one day you stumble upon a cook who happens to make borcht. Nothing fancy, nothing ostentatious – he just makes it for himself and his family, and they really like it. He’s not even Ukranian.

What would happen if you came to him with your message so many others have rejected?

So it goes with many organizations we see today.

So much time and energy is wasted on the production and distribution of messages and materials designed to convince people to give or support an organization that, unfortunately, they just don’t care about. Imagine what could happen if that time, effort, money and creativity was spent, instead, on finding those who already had an affinity for your mission.

The surgical approach vs. shotgun approach

This premise is the basis of donor analytics and other screening processes. How can you use the information you have on donors, members, volunteers, and patrons to identify those most likely to support you. Who is your ideal supporter?

 Try answering some of these questions with your team:

  1. What characteristics does an ideal donor/volunteer/member have?
  2. What is it about them that you think will really set them apart from the rest?
  3. What is it about them that says they are opening to giving?

Going through this process will help you to determine the audience you should be targeting and how you can develop more meaningful messages. What will they find attractive? How can your organization empower them to save the world?