Target your Audience with Donor Segmentation

Donor segmentation is a technique based on the recognition that the universe of potential donors isn’t actually one large homogenous group, but consists of myriad subgroups that share similar needs and preferences. By better responding to prospective donors’ needs and preferences, nonprofits can increase donor generosity, satisfaction, and loyalty. It’s a win-win all round! 
You may think that segmentation has been around for a long time, but typically nonprofits are used to segmenting donors retrospectively, using socio-demographic information to classify them into age groups, geographic location, income level, etc. Instead, today’s donor segmentation focuses on understanding individuals’ attitudes and behaviors, and using this to shape messaging for prospective donors before the campaign starts.

An exercise in donor segmentation

In their recent report, “Money for Good 2015,” the Camber Collective addresses the topic of donor segmentation as a way to “tailor fundraising efforts by donor type, address the concerns that are holding them back from donating at higher levels, and make it easy for them to think more about how they give.”  You can use their downloadable tool to help you carry out a rigorous analysis of your own donor base and identify your unique segments.
However, the report also identifies five more segments found within the general population:
  1. Contented Benefactors
  2. Busy Idealists
  3. Cautious Strivers
  4. Unaware Potentials
  5. Unengaged Critics
It suggests that the Busy Idealists, Cautious Strivers, and Unaware Potentials offer the greatest opportunity for fundraisers given they are most likely to increase or shift their giving behaviors. You can read more about how to engage with these groups in the full report, here.

How to make use of donor segmentation in your next crowdfunding campaign

Start simply:  look at your databases or social media following and see what groups are represented. Many organizations will be able to identify segments such as current donors, major donors, lapsed donors, volunteers, and those that have come into contact with the organization but don’t fit into any of the above categories.  
Then, ask yourself if there are any behavioral or attitudinal characteristics that could provide an alternative way to separate individuals into groups, especially among lapsed donors, volunteers, and the “other” group, which have the most potential to become donors. Posing the following questions will help you discern key traits:
  • Why does this type of person want to give to our cause?
  • What does this type of person feel about charitable organizations in general?
  • Is this person familiar with online giving?
  • Does this person expect anything in return for their gift (whether tangible or intangible)?
  • What prevents this person from giving to our cause?  

Sample donor segmentation messages

If you see a picture emerging of a particular type of person, give them a name and create a “giving persona.” For example, Paul the small businessman, or Edna the recent arts graduate. This will help you and your team understand them as real people and help you craft better messages and content for them. (You can find a useful donor segmentation profile sheet as part of CoSchedule's Facebook Marketing Strategy kit.)

Here are some basic examples of segment-specific messages that respond to donor needs and preferences, but you’re bound to be able to think of many more. You can also read how San Miguel school used two simple segments in their successful campaign.
  • The business donor: “All your donations are tax deductible.”
  • The cautious donor: “It doesn’t matter how much you give, every dollar makes a difference.”
  • The impact-focused donor: “With each $20, you help us change the life of a child…”
  • The busy donor: “Donating online will save you time.”
  • The family donor: “Encourage your children to take part as you give”
Integrating donor segmentation into your crowdfunding campaign might be as fundamental as creating a project specifically to attract the participation of a certain group of new donors, or simply tweaking the headline of your emails, but the results will be well worth it—you’ll find donors are more satisfied, more generous and, in the long term, more loyal. 
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