2014 Resolution: Database Segmentation

Our friends at Blackbaud put together a nice, insightful e-newsletter last year to get us thinking about what we need to focus on in the New Year. It’s called Utilize Your Year-end Momentum: Kickstart 2013 Fundraising. This year, the guide still rings true for your 2014 fundraising, so take a look and see where you could improve in the year ahead.

Now, I recognize we only have a few more precious days before the end of the calendar year and that this is, for many nonprofits, the busiest time of year and when you anticipate receiving a large percentage of your philanthropic funds.

But I hope you will go beyond simply waiting for donors to bring their checks by your office and will heed at least some of what the folks at Blackbaud suggest. They list “Ten common sense steps – think of them as resolutions – to help you ensure the growth of your constituent base.”

What caught my attention is that four of the ten steps revolve around the importance of taking time to segment your approach:

  • #3) Get to know your supporters better;
  • #4) Segment your welcome messages;
  • #8) Create targeted website content;
  • #9) Make your email newsletters more engaging.

Any of you who’ve read some of my previous blogs or our firm’s e-newsletters know that I’ve become a big proponent of segmentation – particularly looking at the demographic differences of our constituents and donors.

To help you think of how to go about segmenting your database, I happened upon this wonderful video clip from the Institute of Fundraising “across the big pond” in the United Kingdom. The IoF is similar to our Association of Fundraising Professionals (in fact,  current AFP President and CEO, Andrew Watt, was once the Deputy Chief Executive of the UK organization).

In the YouTube video, which focuses on segmenting your donors, we are cautioned against attempting to segment TOO much.  For example, if you determine that you have at least 30 different common interest groups within your database, it’s very challenging from a practical standpoint to send out 30 different targeted mailings. Most of us just don’t have the time and the resources.

So, thinking practically is the best approach.

As you scurry about during the year-end, take time to think about how you can utilize its momentum and the different segments of your constituents to help ensure that the New Year will be even stronger than this year.

Best wishes for this holiday season and I hope you have a very Happy (and prosperous!) New Year!