Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Using Segmentation to Better Mine Donor Databases

We have helped nonprofit clients boost retention and fundraising response by segmenting their existing donor mailing lists for better targeting and personalization. And we've learned that effective segmentation has two strategic prerequisites: selecting the right segmentation parameters and having accurate data for those parameters. Unfortunately, surveys show that many nonprofits rely on an overly narrow donor segmentation strategy and ignore factors that could really improve response and engagement; for example, Eleventy Marketing Group recently highlighted a survey finding that while 80% of nonprofits segment by donation amount, other significant factors are frequently neglected (less than 15% said they always segment by interest, channel preference or demographics, for example). A January blog post by the Creative Suitcase nonprofit marketing/design agency gave a great summary of important individual-donor segmentation factors: donation amount, of course, but also donation timing (recency, frequency, patterns); area of focus or interest; preferred type of communication (and that means going beyond mail vs. all-or-nothing opt-ins to frequency and content options); age (older donors prefer direct mail, while millennials like a multi-channel approach, for example); and preferred donation channel (mail, event, online, etc.). So how can a nonprofit gather and maintain such information, especially preference and interest data, about donors? Online and mail donation form questions, online thank-you questions, event registrations and donor surveys are some of Creative Suitcase's suggested vehicles. We would add that demographic data, such as age, can be appended. For more on using donor segmentation to improve communications, see

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