When you’ve built a strong network of donors and supporters, you want to stay connected, keep them engaged with your work and retain their support. And segmenting your donors is one of the first steps to help achieve that.

Donor segmentation is the process of dividing your supporters into groups based on common qualities and characteristics they share.

According to Campaign Monitor, emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened by their recipients. Plus, marketers found a 760% increase in revenue generated from emails that are a part of segmented campaigns. And that’s only taking emails into account. Can you imagine how segmenting your audiences could impact donor communications across other marketing channels?

When you employ donor segmentation strategies across your various marketing and fundraising efforts, you can better personalize all donor interactions, build stronger relationships with supporters, increase donor retention and ultimately raise additional revenue.

Donor Segmentation Criteria

Meaningfully segmenting your donors is impossible without having some basic details about them first. So whenever you collect information about your supporters, you’ll want to store it in a donor management solution, which can help inform your future communications.

With that information, you can begin creating segments. Bloomerang’s donor segmentation guide recommends grouping your supporters based on certain criteria, including:

  • Recency: How long have donors been giving?
  • Frequency: How often do donors give?
  • Type: How are donors giving?
  • Amount: How much are donors giving?
  • Reason: Why do donors give?
  • Interest: What topics are donors most interested in?

Ready to use this criteria to segment your donors and start using these segments to communicate more effectively? Let’s dive in!

Recency: How long have donors been giving?

Taking the recency of donations into account can help your organization determine what type of messages are most appropriate to send to different audiences.

For example, when a donor first gives to your nonprofit, you’ll likely want to send them a series of welcome emails. The purpose of these emails would be to share more about your mission and encourage them to get more involved.

These emails might include things like:

  • A welcome packet including your mission statement, current programs and testimonials designed to introduce them to your organization
  • Information about upcoming events and other ways donors can support your work
  • Surveys that are designed to help you learn more about these supporters and what interests them so you can segment them based on those interests

Recurring donors are likely familiar with your organization and wouldn’t need introductory materials, which is why it’s helpful to segment your donors based on the recency of gifts.

Frequency: How often do donors give?

Another way to segment your donors is by frequency of donations. Segmenting your supporters this way can be beneficial because it allows you to see which donors tend to give sporadically throughout the year. You can then send these donors information on joining your monthly giving program.

Type: How are donors giving?

When you understand how donors give to your organization, you can customize your appeals based on their giving preferences. Consider the following examples:

  • For donors who tend to contribute online, you can send them an email with a direct link to your donation page.
  • For donors who prefer donating during events, you can have a donation kiosk or collect gifts via a mobile device at your next event to make it easier for them to give.
  • For donors who prefer giving through direct mail, you can send them printed appeals and include postmarked return envelopes for them to use to send back their donations.

In addition to segmenting based on the way donors give, you should create additional segments based on what donors give. These segments can include volunteers who give their time, people who give in-kind donations and donors who give monetary contributions.

Amount: How much are donors giving?

You can also categorize your donors by the amount they give. These categories can include:

  • Small donors
  • Mid-level donors
  • Major donors
  • Planned donors

This allows you to better personalize your appeals and use your resources wisely. For example, the messaging you’d send to a smaller donor would be pretty different from what you’d send to a major donor.

Segmenting by donation amount will allow you to tailor your appeals in a way that’s more likely to resonate with each individual donor.

Reason: Why do donors give?

Knowing more about why donors give can help you further personalize your fundraising asks.

For example, consider a nonprofit that works in healthcare for adults with disabilities. Donors may feel especially passionate about this cause if a family member or close friend has a disability. Understanding this motivation can help the nonprofit provide supporters with the best materials and opportunities to get involved with the organization’s mission.

Another reason to segment supporters by why they give is that you can tell stories that match up with their motivations, which will likely be the best way to compel them to donate.

Interest: What topics are donors most interested in?

Ask your supporters about which programs and topics most interest them so you can share relevant information with them. This will keep them engaged and increase the likelihood that they’ll continue to give to your nonprofit in the future.

Let’s say your organization focuses on helping children obtain a well-rounded education. You might support both music and physical education programs. If a donor is more interested in supporting the music program, then you’d be better off sharing information with them about the value of music education and showing the impact of that particular program.

Segmentation is key for your nonprofit to customize and personalize your interactions with your donors. By segmenting your donors based on their giving recency, frequency, type, amount, reason and other interests, you can efficiently and effectively reach out to and solicit donations from your target audience.

What additional criteria would you recommend others consider for donor segmentation? What results have you seen so far from your personalized communication with supporters? Let us know in the comments!


About the Author

As the Chief Marketing Officer at Bloomerang, Ann Fellman is responsible for the company’s overall thought leadership, brand, marketing, and community outreach programs that work to strengthen relationships with customers and the broader nonprofit community. Ann brings with her more than 24 years of experience in business-to-business (B2B) marketing in the technology industry, including time spent working at a nonprofit organization.

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