10 Ways to Segment Your Donors for Better Outreach

How your organization engages with donors depends on their motivations, interests, and communication needs. Donor segmentation is the process of categorizing donors based on those characteristics.

By segmenting your donors you can send more targeted communications that appeal to certain groups. And you can make sure you’re asking for the right amount from donors based on their past giving history. Segmentation allows you to develop a deeper understanding of your donors and improve your overall outreach.

To segment your donors effectively you will need to collect, organize, and manage important data. Fortunately, MonkeyPod makes that easy by giving you a holistic view of all your donor data in a single, up-to-date place. And best yet, that data is easily searchable.

How you decide to segment your donors depends on your needs and constituents. Here are 10 ways you can segment your donors to make sure you are engaging with them successfully.

1. How Your Donors Were Acquired

It is important to know how your donors became connected with your organization so you can tailor your communications and future donation requests. A donor that comes to you from a fundraising event may have a very different level of interest and commitment than a donor that first served as a volunteer.

Some common ways that nonprofits acquire donors include:

  • Social media
  • Volunteers converted to donors
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising
  • Your website
  • In-person events
  • Direct mail

2. Age / Demographics

An important difference among donors is their age and other demographic data. No two generations respond the same way to communication and fundraising techniques. Research shows that Baby Boomers respond to direct mail, whereas Millennials choose to donate online and through crowdfunding.

In addition to age, knowing demographic data like gender, income level, and location may be helpful when creating your communications and engagement opportunities.

3. First Time Donor vs. Returning Donor

Fundraising research shows that first-time donors are retained at a significantly lower rate than donors who have made more than one donation in the past. Getting a first-time donor to give again is an important step in building a relationship with that person. You should track first-time donors because they often need more information about your organization and your work before they decide to give again.

4. Interests

To build a stronger relationship between your organization and your donors, ask them what their interests are. Some donors may only be interested in supporting one of your programs. Others may be interested in volunteering. Knowing what your donors care about most will allow you to make your outreach and communications more relevant.

Donor interests can include:

  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Specific programs
  • Education about your cause
  • Advocacy opportunities

5. Size of Gift

Knowing how much your donors give will help you decide how much you should ask for in future campaigns. Define your segments however it makes most sense for your organization. For example, you could create segments for donors giving under $100, $100-$300, $300+, and major gifts. Over time you can work to build a deeper relationship with your donors and move them up the giving ladder.

6. Giving Frequency

While some donors will give on a regular basis or every time they are asked, other donors may only make gifts once each year. Knowing when your donors usually give will allow you to engage them at the right time in your email marketing or other communications.

7. Engagement Level

How often donors engage with your organization can vary considerably. Someone who volunteers on a regular basis, shares your social media posts, and is a monthly sustaining member has very different needs than a first-time donor. Segmenting your donors based on their engagement level is a good way to align your outreach and engagement efforts with their expectations.

8. Communication Preferences: How & How Often

In addition to knowing why a donor supports your organization, it is equally important to know how they prefer to hear from you. Ask donors their communication preferences so you can reach them in the way they want (e.g. email, direct mail, phone, in person).

You should also note how often donors prefer to hear from you. Some of your donors may love to hear all of your latest news and updates each month. While others want to make a large, one-time gift at the end of the year and want to talk to a member of your organization for a deeper conversation.

Try asking your donors their communication preferences in email surveys, at events, through mailings, or after they make an online donation.

9. Preferred Way to Give

In addition to asking donors how they like to be contacted, ask them how they prefer to give. There are an ever-growing number of ways to collect donations, like direct mail, email, your website, events, social media, crowdfunding and peer-to-peer campaigns, and texting.

You should seek to strike the right balance between flexibility for your donors and efficiency for your organization. Offering too many ways to give will lead to you spending too much time managing and tracking incoming data. Be strategic and identify which methods of collecting donations are most efficient. Then allow your donors to choose from amongst that list for how they want to support your organization.

10. A Donor’s Role Within Your Organization

In addition to being a donor, who is this person to your organization? A board member, volunteer, program participant? A donor’s connection to your organization will evolve over time, hopefully becoming stronger. Your outreach and communications should align with those roles so your supporters are getting the right information at the right time. Define your organization’s roles and make sure to organize your donor data as you collect it.

Choosing What's Right For You

When getting started with donor segmentation, start small and keep it simple. Think about what information you want to know about your donors and then create custom attributes in MonkeyPod to track that data over time.

MonkeyPod makes it easy to search all of your donor data as well as save searches for future segmentation. Because MonkeyPod Relationships CRM and email marketing are integrated, you can add donor segments to email lists with one click. And once you send an email, you can track overall open and click rates, as well as specific opens and clicks for each individual.