Meet Sarah, a passionate and dedicated supporter of her local Humane Society, an animal rescue organization. Sarah is a real person. This is her actual donor story. Sarah has been donating to protect animals for several years and has gradually increased her contributions over time. She’s a perfect example of the importance of year-end donor segmentation.
To gain a deep understanding of the donor experience and how to build a loyal and passionate donor base, check out this Humane Society Donor Experience Report.
Donor segmentation is the process of categorizing your donor base into distinct groups based on factors like demographics, giving history, interests, communication preferences, giving capacity, engagement level, lifecycle stage, and segment-specific goals. This enables nonprofits to tailor their communication and engagement strategies to better meet the unique needs and preferences of each group, ultimately improving donor engagement and fundraising success.
Let’s walk through year-end donor segmentation with Sarah–a loyal donor– in mind.
1. Segment your loyal donors
Sarah belongs to the group of “Multiple year in a row givers.” She has consistently supported the Humane Society and shown a strong commitment to their mission. By segmenting donors like Sarah, the organization recognized her potential as a high-impact donor and understood the need to approach her differently. Asking loyal donors to make a three-year giving pledge is fundamental to increasing their engagement.
2. Offer personalization and upgrade opportunities
Rather than sending a generic year-end appeal to all donors, the organization acknowledged Sarah’s loyal support. They highlighted her history of giving, emphasizing the impact she had made over the years. Instead of asking for the same amount as the previous year, they provided her with a range of giving options, including a suggested amount slightly higher than her previous donation, in this case a 25% suggested increase over her last highest gift of record.
3. Craft effective communications
The organization took the time to craft a personalized message, sharing a success story directly related to Sarah’s interests and her past donations. They knew her interests because they’d previously sent her a donor survey. They described how her contributions had saved countless animals and improved their lives. This emotional connection strengthened her commitment to the organization.
4. Offer acknowledgment and gratitude
After Sarah made her year-end donation, the organization promptly sent a heartfelt thank-you letter. The acknowledgment expressed sincere gratitude for her ongoing support and shared how her contribution would continue to transform the lives of animals in need. The Development Director also called her a few months before just to check in.
5. Request feedback and engagement
In both the donor survey and phone call, the organization also asked for Sarah’s feedback about her donation experience and her preferences for future involvement. They used this feedback to tailor future communications and engagement efforts. They also recorded the feedback in their Bloomerang donor database.
6. Ensure a successful outcome
Thanks to this personalized, donor-centric approach, Sarah not only renewed her support but also increased her donation to the suggested amount. Her continued loyalty and increased giving highlighted the importance of donor segmentation and the power of tailored communication.
7. Implement planned or legacy giving
This year the Humane Society invited Sarah to join their “We Love Animals” Society, a group of committed donors who leave a bequeath in their will. Sarah added a sentence to her will that said, “In my last will and testament, I hereby bequeath [X%] of my estate to [Insert Name of Animal Rescue Nonprofit], a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization, to support their mission of rescuing and caring for animals in need.” The Development Director provided that sentence for Sarah to use.
Sarah’s story demonstrates that donor segmentation is more than just a strategy. It’s a way to honor and engage your supporters effectively. It enables you to recognize and celebrate your donors’ unique journey and commitment, ultimately helping you build stronger relationships and increased support during the critical year-end fundraising season.
Loyal donors like Sarah require careful consideration to encourage continued support and potential upgrades.
Before soliciting this group, analyze their philanthropic capacity through prospect research tools like DonorSearch. This enables you to identify potential high-impact donors who haven’t been asked for larger contributions yet. The research showed that Sarah was a prospect that could make a transformational gift to a campaign.
Loyal donors like Sarah require a personalized, strategic approach:
- Sarah doesn’t always respond to each appeal letter, but she appreciates the updates on the organization’s progress and impact.
- Sarah likes information on the organization’s sustainability and wants to know about upcoming priorities.
- The organization will start to increase in-person meetings with Sarah to discuss her continued support. The meetings will focus on getting to know her better, and to express appreciation for her ongoing partnership. Perhaps she’s a candidate for their board of directors?
Your success in segmenting your year-end fundraising appeal will depend on the unique characteristics of your donor base and your ability to tailor your messaging effectively. Be sure to continuously evaluate your strategy’s outcomes and refine your approach based on the results, so that your year-end appeal remains a dynamic and responsive drive.
We welcome hearing about your experience with year-end donor segmentation. Share your comments and questions below.