The Art of Donor SegmentationBy Angelina Burkholder
With so many voices flooding the donor landscape, each cleverly clamoring for the attention of deep pocket givers, how do you even get a chance to stand out?
We like to think it’s pretty simple: Start communicating within segmented lists.
Let’s back up a little bit first. Say you have 500 names on your donor email list. You send out an e-appeal several times a year and their gifts average out to $5 a person. At face value, that doesn’t seem like a lot.
We get why it becomes increasingly easy to give in to the pressure of budget deadlines and financial needs, resorting just to pursuing new people who will give something (or anything!) to your organization. But we all know deep down inside that approach is just slapping a Band-Aid on a gaping wound.
Here’s the catch—people are giving and with email being a free communication channel, every little dollar is valuable. SO! Pause and say thanks for the $5. And instead of focusing all of your attention on adding more $5 givers to that list, cultivate the people you already have.
Here’s the key: Realize that more is not always more.
Using segmentation, you can begin to break up that list of 1,000 people into smaller lists based on their gift size, time lapsed since their last gift, age demographic, etc. Then you build strategic communications designed specifically for each list (even if you have 10, 25, 50 different lists). Here’s why: That email you just sent to a newly graduated millennial who only occasionally throws $20 your way is not going to resonate with a 50-year-old woman who faithfully gives $75 a month. Someone is going to feel lost, and chances are both demographics will feel some sense of disconnect and potentially drop off.
By breaking up your main list and communicating to each segment specifically, you can share moving stories with millennials (they care about the issue and the solution—not you), impact numbers with older, established donors (they care about the credibility of the organization they are trusting with their dollars), and so forth. Furthermore, a millennial won’t open your emails at the same time that a retiree will. So specialize your emails even more by testing sending times for your different lists.
Segmented lists are your allies, your deepest friends. Get to know them, learn to love them, and make sure you know every in and out of the way yours work.
Once you have smart communication plans in place and execution well underway for your current contacts, only then should you start efforts to pull in new people. That way, when a new person commits to you, you have a system in place to nurture that contact and move them up the donor pay grade.
Lastly, if you’re a nonprofit and your CRM doesn’t have the power to allow you segmentation, then it’s time to upgrade or break up and find a new CRM mate. We know change is hard, and it sometimes requires a lot of time and resources, but it’s worth; believe us on this one.