A guest post by Grant Cobb of GivingMail
Your nonprofit is working hard to give back to your community, but perhaps you’re having a difficult time connecting with your audience. Perhaps you have low engagement rates among your donors, or maybe you’ve even heard that your audience is not receiving or remembering your marketing materials. That’s a major problem, but what can you do about it?
Marketing is an essential part of fundraising for any nonprofit organization’s development. How do you know which marketing strategy to use and which donors to use it with?
Donor segmentation, or the process of dividing your donors into groups based on similar characteristics, is a very effective strategy to appeal to certain types of supporters. For instance, while text-to-give might be an effective marketing channel for your younger, tech-savvy donors, it might fail to connect with those of older generations.
But that’s just one example! We’ve picked our 5 top strategies for identifying the right marketing channel for each of our donor segments. In determining your marketing channel of choice, you should:
- Look at your donor’s past engagement.
- Reference the donor’s preferred communication channel.
- Use demographic information.
- Categorize based on average gift size.
- Orient your marketing around your donor’s location.
Marketing for your nonprofit takes time, energy, and money, so streamlining your outreach method can make your fundraising approach easier and might even earn you more donations. Plus, you can build better relationships for your donors, and hopefully encourage them to stick around. Let’s dive in!
1. Look at your donor’s past engagement.
Reviewing your donor’s previous engagements with your organization offers valuable insights into which marketing channel you should use and how often you should contact your supporter.
Let’s say you’re comparing two different donors. Donor #1 is highly engaged with your organization. They attend various events and sometimes volunteer. Meanwhile, Donor #2 was a one-time contributor and it’s been crickets since.
Because these donors have such different levels of engagement, your approach should vary accordingly!
For Donor #1, you could make a phone call to request a donation for your upcoming fundraiser. If this donor has had face-to-face interactions with your organization, a highly personal marketing channel, like a phone call, is a great idea. But Donor #2 might be more likely to respond to a more passive approach, like outreach via social media or email.
Here are some additional tips for ensuring that you contact your donors effectively:
- Personalize your outreach: A little personalization can go a long way. Simply using the donor’s name or acknowledging their previous engagement history demonstrates that you value the donor as an individual, and not just a dollar amount.This GivingMail guide on how to ask for donations can help you personalize your donation requests to best fit the donor you’re contacting.
- Try taking a multi-channel approach: Contacting your donors across more than one channel increases the likelihood that your message will reach the intended audience. Consider combining two or more channels, such as text-to-give and direct mail.
- Identify which channels have been most effective in the past: As the saying goes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Feel free to rely on the channels that have worked well with particular donors in the past.
2. Use the donor’s preferred communication channel.
Have you ever asked your donors how they would prefer to be contacted? Using this information not only saves you time by eliminating the channel guessing game, but it also demonstrates that you pay attention to your donor’s preferences, which they will certainly appreciate.
If you haven’t asked your donors for their preferred communication channel, it’s a great idea to include this question in your onboarding or donation form on your nonprofit’s website going forward.
On your survey, you could provide these options:
- Direct mail
- Social media
You could also consider how you acquired the donor. Did they find you through your website? Did they donate through text-to-give? Did they respond to a post on your social media account? If one channel has reached them before, it will likely be their preference and will reach them again.
Obtaining this information sooner than later can make a huge difference in how much time you spend on planning your marketing approach. If your nonprofit is launching a digital campaign, for instance, and you already know your donors’ preferred digital communication method, you can get started immediately.
3. Segment by age.
One of the most commonly used demographics in donor segmentation is age, and for good reason. A younger audience might be more likely to find your organization through your website or a text-to-give campaign while older donors might hear about you through word-of-mouth or direct mail marketing.
But be careful not to make too many assumptions. While you might be tempted to use social media solely to reach your younger donors, certain platforms, like Facebook, are actually used more often by older audiences.
In addition to aiding your marketing strategy, age can also help you determine which fundraising approach you might want to implement within each segment. While a crowdfunding campaign or peer-to-peer fundraising is most effective with millennials, remember that baby boomers will tend to be more responsive to traditional mail campaigns.
4. Categorize based on average gift size.
Depending on the fundraiser you’re running, it might be more efficient to focus on a specific type of contributor as your campaign progresses. This approach can help keep your fundraising efforts organized and will give you the time to focus on one segment at a time.
For instance, if you’re running a capital campaign, you might want to focus your efforts on donors who have the largest average gift sizes first to secure major donations. Then, you can work your way down to the lowest average contributors, adjusting your marketing strategy along the way.
Not sure how to organize your strategy or which marketing methods to use? Here are some steps to follow with their ideal marketing channel if you decide to segment your donors by their average gift size:
- Major gifts: Start here. This way, you can make sure to acquire your biggest donations before appealing to smaller donors. Prioritize highly personalized interactions with these donors. Try meeting them face-to-face or giving them a phone call to explain the value of their gift. Be sure to determine a minimum required donation amount to be considered a major donor beforehand.
- Midsize gifts: Once you’ve secured your largest donations, move on to your medium-sized contributors. Reach them with a personalized email or direct mail campaign. Plus, if your large donors agree to match other donations, you could use this benefit as a selling point for your mid-size and smaller supporters.
- Small gifts: Focus on these donors last to push your final fundraising total up to your goal. Connect with them through a text-to-give or social media campaign, and make the donation process as easy as possible. Remember that every donation counts!
5. Orient your marketing around your donor’s location.
Your proximity to donors will affect how accessible you will be to them, and segmenting your donors by location can help you tailor your marketing materials to fit those limitations. This is especially true if you’re an organization working within your local community.
If you’re hosting a local, in-person event, for example, it wouldn’t make sense to send a postcard invitation to someone living two states away.
However, just because your far-away donors can’t attend your event doesn’t mean that they don’t want to hear from you. All you have to do is implement a different strategy. Social media, email, text-to-give, or other digital communication methods can be an effective way to continue building meaningful relationships with donors who aren’t nearby. This OneCause guide to hybrid events can also help you bring your donors together no matter their location.
Grant Cobb is a fundraising specialist with over 6 years of experience in the nonprofit space. Currently the head of marketing and analytics at GivingMail, he is a huge proponent of data-driven decision making and the push to bring high-level analytics and fundraising to all.