The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Don’t Be That Kid: Develop Better Donor Relations with Segmentation

Last summer, I was wandering through Chicago’s famous Field Museum when I felt a small arm grab my leg. I wasn’t visiting the museum with any kids, so this was a surprise. I turned around and saw a little girl. The girl assumed I was an adult she knew. She started asking me about lunch plans and why her brother was being so mean. Eventually, she looked up, and with the “I’m-on-the-verge-of-crying-where-is-my-parent?” look on her face, she let go of my leg and bolted away.

I’ll excuse a small child for not paying attention to who she was talking to. But a nonprofit fundraiser? You should know better! More important, you should know your donors better.

Does this apply to you? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe you might never waste time or resources on strangers. You are only focused on communicating with your amazing donors! You think to yourself: “They gave to us, so they most definitely know us!” The real question is:  do you really know them?

When you ignore donor segmentation best practices, donor preferences, and giving history, you might as well be talking to a stranger. A nonprofit I give to regularly treated me like a stranger last summer. They sent me a really confusing series of emails. More than anything, I was disappointed because I know they could have raised more money if they did a better job of sending messages that resonated with different types of donors.

Don’t make this mistake. Develop better donor relations by talking to your donors in a way that makes sense and shows that you know them. The best way to do that is to use donor segmentation. Donor segmentation simply means splitting your donor list into groups based on defined criteria, like giving levels, and sending specific messages that would best resonate with each group.

Here are a few examples:

  1. Giving level: Use the exact same appeal letter, but, in your response device, adjust your gift string to appropriately reflect a donor’s giving level. Don’t ask a major donor for a $10 gift. And vice versa: a new donor who has only given $20 over the course of the year is not likely to respond to a gift string in the $500-$1000 range.
  2. Lapsed donors/current donors: One of the great features in our new donor management system is the ability to quickly see which donors are lapsed (have not given in the past 365 days) and which ones are current. When you send these lapsed donors an appeal to reactivate, this is the perfect opportunity to send your current donors thank you notes for their most recent gifts.
  3. Campaign donors: What’s better than landing an email appeal reminder in your donor’s inbox? NOT landing in a donor’s inbox if they have already given to your campaign. All donors will appreciate this segmentation method:
    • Donors who have already given won’t be getting an irrelevant email to give to a campaign again.
    • Those donors who have overflowing inboxes will get a nice reminder to give if they haven’t already!

Download our new Donor Segmentation Cheat Sheet for simple ways to segment your donor database. In it, you’ll also find tips for how communicating with each segment so that you can raise more money by sending them messages that make sense.

There’s no question that getting to know your donors takes a little extra effort. It takes the right tools and the right (and thoughtful) approach to use segmentation in strategic ways. When done right, donor segmentation can maximize your donor communication opportunities as well as your fundraising results.

The best way to segment, track, and know your donors is to keep it all organized in a donor management system. And if you need a better way to track donors, you’re in luck. The company that made online giving easy is now making donor management easy, too! Schedule a tour of Network for Good’s new donor database system to learn how you can save time and raise more money.

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About This Blog

Linda Lombardi

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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