Why do people take action? 

How do they want to engage? 

What will they actually do?

To achieve impact, you need people to give their attention, time, and money—to spread the word, support your organization, or take part in your programs.

To do that, you need to engage people in meaningful ways that motivate them to take actions that contribute to expanding your reach, resources, and impact.

But in today’s crowded communications landscape, it’s hard to identify people out there who will actually take action for your cause. And it’s hard to determine how best to inspire people who have different motivations and interests. 

Relying on demographics like age, race, or political affiliation provides some ideas, but it can only take you so far, because people are more complex than that. People from very different backgrounds can share similar motivations for getting involved in a good cause—and people who share a demographic trait can have very different motivations. To really inspire and engage your audience, you have to listen to what’s most important to them and connect your cause to their highest aspirations.

For more than 20 years, our firm has used the art and science of Aspirational Communication to help leaders and organizations of all kinds motivate and mobilize people to win historic victories—from the fight for marriage equality to youth anti-smoking campaigns. 

Today, we’re building on everything we’ve learned from that work to launch SPIRE by Hattaway Communications. SPIRE is a powerful new dataset and toolkit with audience personas based on people’s highest aspirations and motivations, and with actionable insights on how different segments actually engage with causes they care about.


Based on brain science, social science, and data science, SPIRE is an aspirational audience segmentation—an in-depth study of the U.S. population, focused on the way people think about and act on causes they care about.

SPIRE draws on decades of research and a deep understanding of how people respond to purpose-driven communications. It’s based on our Aspirational Communication Model and draws on four key drivers that motivate people to take action on causes of all kinds. We all are motivated more by certain ideas than others, and our segmentation teased out our differences when it comes to how we act.

ASPIRATIONAL: The vast majority of Americans aspire to support positive change, but some people are more other-oriented—they want to feel a responsibility to help others and to make a positive difference in the world. Others are more self-oriented—they want to be their best selves and to exercise their creativity. 

SOCIAL: Most Americans believe you need to work with others to get things done, but about half want to undertake collective action themselves—they want to be part of a community and love meeting others and sharing information—while others are more individualistic in the actions they want to take. 

EMOTIONAL: While many Americans trust that leaders and institutions can make a difference—they are optimistic about a brighter future and believe in organizations’ proven track records—most Americans are skeptical and need more information—they believe activism is all talk but no action and won’t donate unless they know how their money will be spent. 

FUNCTIONAL: Most Americans want to support good causes they believe in, but while some are empowered to engage—they believe that they can make a difference and have the time and resources to engage—most need guidance—they feel that ordinary people like them can’t make a difference and worry about saying the wrong thing.


We asked thousands of Americans nearly 100 questions to create six distinct profiles of the American public—each of which thinks and acts differently when it comes to cause-related issues. 

SPIRE also includes analysis of each segment’s interest in and engagement with nearly two dozen issues and causes, from arts and culture to the environment, income inequality, health care, and many more. This analysis helps you attract new audiences who care about your cause and will actually take action.

In future blog posts, we’ll discuss science-based insights for meaningful audience engagement, and how tailoring content and communications can increase your reach, response, and resources. We’ll also do a deep dive on each SPIRE segment: why they’re motivated to engage with good causes, what holds them back, what issues they care most about, how they like to engage, and how you can reach them.

We’re excited to launch this tool and start working with leaders and organizations to learn how you can better motivate and mobilize your audience. 

To learn more about how SPIRE can help you engage your audience: 

Email us Spire@Hattaway.com or visit hattaway.com/spire