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Articles > Fundraising Ideas > A beginner's guide to segmenting donor communications

A beginner's guide to segmenting donor communications

Tips for getting donor communications right whilst minimising the time and effort that segmentation can take

In smaller nonprofit organisations, there is often less resource to deliver donor email communications effectively, but it’s essential to keep in touch, stay engaged and avoid losing support. Building a communications plan based on using tools to segment your data can maximise the impact of your email comms, increase the opportunities to retain donors and bring on new supporters. 

Donor segmentation refers to splitting your contacts into groups based on different criteria - it’s possible that not everyone in your database is a donor, and may have interacted with you in a different way, e.g. attended an event. In this case, you might want to use your email communications to explain a bit more about how your organisation is helping people, and use your call to action (or ‘CTA’) to ask them to make a first-time donation. 

Segmenting your email communications helps to tailor your recipient’s experience with your organisation to feel more personal, and is becoming a widely accepted way of sharing information. However, feeling limited in facilitating the execution of segmented email campaigns can hinder comms planning, and make marketing and comms teams in nonprofit organisations and charities feel like sophisticated segmentation is out of their grasp. 

How often should you send email communications?

If your current email communication is sporadic, sparse, or it’s been some time since you were last in touch, then it would be wise to start with a quick reminder of who your organisation is, where you are based, and how you’re helping. In the same way that we might introduce ourselves in real life, it’s also important to reference where you ‘met’, or more likely, where and when you came to have their contact details. This can help to remind and reassure people that you do have an existing relationship. You can then give a quick overview of some of the highlights since your last newsletter or communication; for example, how you’ve been adapting to help people during the pandemic, what kind of activities have been taking place, and any great stories from beneficiaries. 

You can tailor the frequency of your communications to the resources you have available to you, for example how much content you have, or whether you have a dedicated comms resource. There might not be the need to contact everyone in your database more than once a month with a newsletter, but you should consider how these communications fit into your wider stewardship strategy, and build up email communication volume over time to maintain that connection and engagement from afar. 

How can you split your audience into different segments?

Depending on what kind of data you have in your database, you could split your donor communications into different segments, such as ‘donated in the last year’; ‘donated over x amount’; ‘regular donors’, or you can keep it simple and create one dedicated ‘thank you’ email for anyone who has donated. 

For those that haven’t donated so far, centre your newsletter around the progress and impact that you have made, and tell them a story before sharing a call-to-action to get involved by donating.  Being able to donate online or set up regular giving through a website is useful as you can encourage people to click straight through and donate while your cause is still fresh in their mind, and these donations will be logged automatically against their database record. 

You may want to send a different message to those that have joined a specific activity, such as taking a tour of your organisation or attending a fundraising dinner. This is when it can be useful to use advanced filters to ensure that each recipient only receives one communication, even if they are also a donor. 

Best practice tips for donor communications

1. Put people at the centre of your imagery, message and content

People give to help other people: remind your donors and prospects about how you’re helping by framing the story around the impact for beneficiaries.

2. Use a strong call to action for fundraising

Whether you’re contacting existing donors to ask them to consider upping their donations, or contacting those who are yet to make their first donation, be clear on the action you want them to take and give plenty of opportunities to make the next step. Try to make your call to action stand out, for example by putting it in a box or different colour, to differentiate it from the rest of the newsletter.

3. Personalise your communications

Segmentation can help to personalise your communications, for example, by adding references to specific activity or thanking them for previous donations, but don’t forget to add extra personalisation by adding their name into the subject line or opening message. 

4. Use easily readable and short text

Try to make it easy for readers to take away small pieces of information that connect with why they have donated or may donate in the future. Keep the text short and focus on the key points, and direct readers back to your website for more information.

To find out more about how you can send successful donor communications and raise funds, even with low resources, speak to a member of the ToucanTech team

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