Donor Segmentation: 3 Ways it Will Improve Fundraising

Are you sending out mass communications to your mailing list without performing donor segmentation first? 

If so, you may be missing out on the opportunity to improve engagement with your supporters.

Donor segmentation is a powerful tool used in both marketing and fundraising. It is the process of grouping your list into smaller segments or subgroups. You then craft specific messages for the individual segments. 

Using donor segmentation when communicating with your supporters is important for a number of reasons:

  • It will keep your supporters engaged with relevant messages
  • It  will improve donor and volunteer retention
  • Choosing the right vehicle to deliver your message will improve ROI

Message in bottle on beach: donor segmentation

1. Donor Segmentation Will Keep Your Supporters Engaged

According to abila’s Donor Loyalty Study, donors want short, consumable, personalized content instead of generic, one-size-fits-all newsletters.

Donor segmentation allows you to reach your supporters based on their specific interests. 

For example, you wouldn’t send a capital campaign appeal to people who have just started supporting you. You need time to nurture these donors as they learn more about your organization. 

On the other hand, if you have donors who express interest in the capital projects, reach out to them ahead of a campaign. Since you know they are likely to give, offer them the inside scoop. 

Donor segmentation allows you to get creative and decide which message is going to go to which audience. 

Image of volunteers working in a field

2. Donor Segmentation Improves Retention

Fundraising is all about building personal relationships. Therefore, you need to build credibility and trust with new members. In addition, you should show supporters you care about them as an individual. Donor Segmentation will allow you to tailor your message so your outreach feels more personal.

Segmenting your volunteer list by interests is a great practice. To start, include skills and interests in your volunteer applications. You can then use this data to your advantage. For instance, if you have volunteers who have expressed interest in fieldwork, reach out to them with relevant volunteer opportunities. When you are reaching volunteers with opportunities that resonate with them, the more likely they are to keep volunteering.

Your messages should align with your segments and serve a particular goal. For example, have a list of new donors and send a welcome email series to them. This will help introduce them to your organization and will begin to nurture a relationship. If you have a list of long-time supporters, be sure to send them individualized thank yous on their giving anniversary. For example, schedule “anniversary” emails to go out based on the length of their support. (Hint: you can set up automated emails with DonorSnap’s Automated Task Manager.)

The more personal you get the more your supporters will feel connected to your cause. Segmentation is a great way to stay connected with your members in a meaningful way. Ultimately, these relationships will improve donor and volunteer retention.

Image of person holding phone up to mail box with email graphic

3. Donor Segmentation will improve ROI and open rates 

It is important to look at demographics when planning how you will deliver your message.  For example, donors 75+ years prefer voice calls and direct mail. These donors are late adopters of email and do not typically use text messaging or social media. Make sure you are not just sending them digital communications.

On the other hand, Millennials are active on their phones and respond best to text messages* and social media. If you are not on social media you could be missing out on reaching the next big generation of donors. *Did you know you can now send text messages out of DonorSnap?  

Demographics play a key role in how your message gets to your target audience. When you know how your donors prefer to be contacted, you will be able to reach them easier. This information can be collected via survey or an online form. 

How to get started?

Target Personas are fictional profiles of your ideal target audience.  Although they are generally used when planning to reach new prospects, you can also use them to segment your current list. To start, think about who your different audiences are. This is a great exercise to do with your team because everyone will bring in their own insights. Below are some questions to help you get started: 

  • What are their demographics? (age, income, location, education)
  • What motivates them? 
  • What do they enjoy? 
  • How do they engage with your organization? 
  • What is the best way to reach them? 

Answering these questions will help you decide how to split up your list. 

How to do Donor Segmentation in DonorSnap

DonorSnap’s query tool DataMiner Platinum allows you to create an unlimited number of segments. You can use this tool to create segments like:

  • Donors Who Gave >1,000 consecutively for 5 years
  • Donors Who are Also Volunteers
  • Volunteers who have never donated
  • Major Donors who have given to a capital campaign in the past

All of these queries can be used to create personalized messages for your donors. And with personalization comes retention. 

How do you get data about your segments?

The more data you collect about your supporters the easier segmentation will be. If you don’t have the information you want to use, send out an email survey to collect this data. DonorSnap provides user-defined fields, so you can track as much information as you want about your supporters. The more data you have the more detailed you can get with your segmentation.


Donor Segmentation is a powerful tool to connect with your supporters. It will help you get the right message to the right people. Segmentation improves ROI when you choose the best method to reach your supporters. When you put all of these practices in place the results are greater engagement and donor retention.


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