Why “Segmentation” Isn’t as Scary as It Sounds (And You NEED It In Marketing)

hub_magazine_logo_1 copyThis article originally appeared in our Nonprofit Hub Magazine, a free bi-monthly magazine dedicated to providing focused content on a particular topic. 

In our November/December edition, we explored how to build your 2015 marketing plan. To reserve your free copy of our January/February issue on donor retention, sign up today.


If a millionaire came to your organization and asked how much the average donor gives, what would you tell them?

If you don’t do donor segmentation, this scenario presents a problem. You would tell them the overall average amount, which would be much lower than the average amount that your top 10 percent of donors gave.

Steven Shattuck, Bloomerang’s VP of marketing, explained that this actually happened to an NPO and offered two quick tips for your organization to implement.

Shattuck suggests at least 4 segments for your organization:

1. New donors at or below your average gift amount

2. Returning donors at or below your average gift amount

3. New donors above average gift amount

4. Returning donors above average gift amounts

Once you have donors segmented, you should be marketing toward them differently.

For new donors, Shattuck said to take the opportunity to introduce yourself further because they’re new, and they may not know much about you. Plus, he adds, the retention rate skyrockets once you secure the second donation. And with returning donors, your job is to steward them.

The other way to think about segmenting is with the rule of 0-10-90, Shattuck suggests.

It goes like this: Segment your donors into people who have given 0 dollars in the past two years, people who gave the lowest amounts adding up to 10 percent of total donations and top donors who contributed 90 percent of donations in two years.

“We tell people to get rid of the zero guys,” Shattuck said. “They haven’t given in two years. Get rid of them. That’s pretty aggressive, actually, and some people kind of freak out when we say that.”

And Shattuck says that hanging onto those donors that haven’t given is costing you money in terms of direct mail and other marketing resources.

The people who make up the 10 percent of your total donations in the past two years should be put in a special place. Make sure they’re really feeling the love from you. Do something different to get them to upgrade, because your efforts are working okay, but could use improvement.

And for the other 90 percent (which is a small group), keep doing the marketing efforts you’ve been doing, because they’re working.

With tools like this, what’s stopping organizations from segmenting? A lack of technology, knowledge or even the wrong mindset can stop organizations from segmenting. Think you can’t do it just because you’re a small organization? Think again.

Shattuck suggests it’s easier for smaller organizations because they probably have a smaller list than huge NPOs because it’s cheaper and easier to make a few phone calls.

Plus, remember that you’re not just marketing to get more donors—volunteers need to also be top of mind.

A volunteer is 10 times more likely to give than a non-volunteer. The lesson here? Make sure you’re paying special attention to the people who care enough to donate their time. That’s a telltale sign that they’re already committed to your NPO.


Lyndsey Hrabik

Lyndsey is a former editor for Nonprofit Hub and Nonprofit Hub Magazine. She now serves as a guest contributor, writing on topics such as social media, technology, marketing and starting a nonprofit.

December 2, 2014

You May Also Enjoy

Become a Member

Whether you’re with a large team or a solo entrepreneur looking to start the next great cause, we have a membership package that will help you grow your network and your cause.