Five strategy exercises that can help your nonprofit fulfill its mission

Mar. 29, 2019 | Cody Thompson, UI/UX Designer

See how applying simple product design practices can help your nonprofit campaign strategy with research, data and feedback

Much like many industries, nonprofits deal with a variety of people who support their organization in different ways. Part of understanding these segments is diving into research, discovery, data, and other information to better define who these segments are, what attracts them to your nonprofit, and what their view is of your nonprofit.

The rest of this post discusses ways to digest and disseminate this information into actionable directions using product design exercises such as building personas, experience mapping, capturing and synthesizing feedback, brainstorming, and iterating on initiatives.

Design Exercise 1: Personas

A persona is a fictitious character that is based on a real group of people. Personas in design are used to analyze a particular group’s perspectives about a certain topic or problem. Product teams use them to get in the head of their product’s users by recapping information about the larger segment of users they have had discussions with. Personas help product teams inform decision-making processes, prioritize product features, and remind them of specific processes pain points their user groups are experiencing. They typically contain a description, demographics, segment criteria, motivations, goals, and pain points.

Much in the same way that personas help product teams, nonprofits can use personas to better understand their donor segments. Personas may help nonprofits:

  • Get into the mind of particular donor segments to gain an understanding why they have an affinity to your nonprofit
  • Better align their viewpoints with the viewpoints of a donor segment to understand what motivates them
  • Focus on the appeals a specific segment gives to and the ways they interact with the nonprofit to better develop and target marketing campaigns
  • Make sense of the problems a segment of donors is facing to identify how to improve those problems

Design Exercise 2: Experience Maps

If you want to push your personas a bit further, or dive deeper into understanding how particular people interact with your organization from different perspectives, you can develop experience maps. Product teams often use experience maps to understand customer experiences within an organization or the product. Next to the detailed points that a persona contains, experience maps take a larger look at process workflows to identify constraints, recognize areas that can be streamlined, and gain the sense of an experiences larger picture. They may also be used to put together new suggested workflows for a new process, program, or overall experience.

Experience maps typically include the overall stage of an experience with a timeline for the stage, each persona that is a part of the experience, the persona’s actions within each stage, their motivations, their emotions, their touchpoints, and anything else that might be a defining characteristic of the experience. Experience maps can help nonprofits:

  • Dive into understanding a donor’s experience within giving to your nonprofit
  • Coincide environmental factors with emotional reasons for why a donor decides to give or not give to a particular campaign
  • Recognize redundancies in tools, processes, and programs that can be consolidated, as well as gaps that can be closed
  • Gain empathy for your supporters’ journey when interacting with your nonprofit to better inform how to improve their experience

Design Exercise 3: Capture & Synthesize Feedback

Capturing and synthesizing feedback should be at the heart of any organization who puts their clients, donors, customers, or supporters first. Product teams do this to better understand market segment needs and then turn those needs into sets of prioritized actions. Feedback can be captured via surveys, calls with supporters, feedback portals, email, events, and many other ways.

The goal is to capture this feedback and synthesize it into tangible and prioritized actions that help your nonprofit improve upon its service offering. Feedback points should be analyzed for correlations and then scored based on the amount of people who have given the particular pieces of feedback.

Capturing and synthesizing feedback can help your nonprofit:

  • Identify gaps, pain points, and needs in program offerings that your supporters may want to see change or become fulfilled
  • Help inform and bring new programs to life that your supporters may be continuously bringing up
  • Remove any barriers that inhibit interacting with your supporters
  • Prioritize what actions might make the biggest difference in your support community

Design Exercise 4: Brainstorm

Personas, experience maps, and prioritized actions from feedback can all be used in any brainstorm activity within your nonprofit. Product teams often come together to discuss new features and how they relate to certain personas, experiences, or feedback that has been received from people.

The same can be done for nonprofits in brainstorming new programs, fundraising campaigns, and more. If your supporters or segments of people related to any of the stuff being brainstormed, referring back to the materials can help in reminding you of specific pieces of information about your donor segments.

Everyone knows how brainstorming can help. In nonprofits brainstorms might help:

  • Bring up new ideas related to segments, fundraising, programs, or other areas of your nonprofit’s functions
  • Break down pain points from personas and experience maps into idealized solutions
  • Work through ideas and map out how they might affect a supporters overall experience with your nonprofit
  • Set a path or direction to move forward in within a particular department or subject area

Design Exercise 5: Test & Iterate

All of these things ultimately come down to testing and iterating on whether you solved some paint points or improved things for your supporters. Product teams aim to bring everything together in new experiences or features that can be tested and iterated upon with product users. These new features or experiences are highly informed by the personas, experience maps, synthesized feedback, and brainstorm sessions.

Testing requires interacting with people who will experience whatever idea you are putting out in front of a segmented audience. This may help nonprofits:

  • Understand what is an is not working within a campaign to iteratively adjust and improve its effectiveness
  • Iteratively develop programs to understand what’s resonating with people and understand where the program should go based on supporter feedback
  • Take feedback from suppers and identify ways in which to improve
  • Be more flexible and increase the ROI or effectiveness of program, campaigns, and initiatives

The Aegis CRM Ideas Portal

Aegis Premier Technologies is always looking for new ways to gather and harness our client’s feedback. That’s why we are firing up an ideas portal to capture your ideas and allow you to vote on similar ideas that will help drive the way of the future for Aegis Premier Technologies software. Visit the link below to get started in adding what you would like to see happen with Aegis CRM.

Ideas Portal

Cody Thompson is the UI/UX designer for Aegis Premier Technologies. If you are interested in doing a discovery call with the Aegis Product Team, email us at

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