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Momentum Blog

Donor segmenting expands beyond demographics

Posted by Hilary Hamblin on Oct 15, 2018 8:15:00 AM

donor segmenting

As nonprofits plunge headlong into a holiday season filled with appeals, Giving Tuesday and special events, it’s a prime time to wish for better-segmented donor profiles. Creating those donor profiles takes time, however, something nonprofit CMOs never have enough of. If you were going to launch into donor profile and segmentation research, where would you start?

An article earlier this year on MarketingProfs lamented the lack of depth of many corporations customer segmentation strategies. Whether you’re running a for-profit corporation or a nonprofit charity, it seems really knowing your audience and delivering the messages they need is a struggle for everyone.

Get the basics

We agree with the referenced article that basic demographics isn’t enough to truly segment your donors, it is the place to start. Some of those demographics may not play a part in your ultimate donor profile, but knowing gender, occupation, geographic location, family structure, education level, and income goes a long way to help you start to segment your donors into usual profiles.

Talk to your donors

If your database includes 30,000 donors it may not be possible to reach out to every one of them. Even processing survey results from half of those could overwhelm your staff. Start by segmenting your donors by their type of gift and survey a percentage of people in each gift-giving category.

Below are a few questions we’d ask, but we’re sure you have others that make sense for segmenting your donors:

  • Where do you find your news?
  • What social channels do you use most often?
  • What do you do in your free time?
  • Do you prefer to travel or staycation?
  • Do you serve on the board of any nonprofit?
  • To what other nonprofits do you give?
  • Where do you volunteer?
  • Do you contribute to political campaigns?
  • Do you own your home or rent?
  • Do you own a vacation home?
  • Do you own a boat or plane?
  • What’s the next big purchase you plan to make?

These questions allow you to see similarities among donors and may help you find which donors could more easily move to a higher giving level. Identifying these micro-segments also allow you to target potential donors through social media with messages and images that relate more to their lifestyle.

Test the information against your current strategy

Compare what marketing and fundraising messages are really working for your organization to what’s not working. Can you explain any of the successes or flops based on what you learned about your donors? What changes need to be made in content, strategy, timing or methods to better reach your donors?

As you plan for 2019, considering allocating time or budget (or both) for donor segmentation. The payoffs to your strategy and campaign spending will outweigh the initial cost of doing the work.

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