Data segmentation is all the talk but what does it really mean for fundraising organizations?
Segmentation by definition is division into separate parts or sections. In fundraising, when we talk about segmentation, we are talking about a process of grouping together constituents into alike categories in order to get closer to personalizing our message at scale.
There are many ways to segment a database. Some common approaches are to build segments by constituency type, by giving history, by geography, by expressed interest, or some combination of these. The goal is to then send the same message or apply the same approach to everyone within the segment and that message will be targeted in a way that resonates with the group. Segmentation can also be a time-consuming and costly process so it’s important to make sure it is done thoughtfully rather than simply because it sounds like the right thing to do.
Start with your goal(s) in mind - are you focused on a specific fundraising campaign or working on new donor acquisition? Your messaging and outreach strategies will differ depending on your goals, and so will the audiences with which those messages will resonate.
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Identify target audience(s)/group(s) - these will vary depending on your organization type as well as the goal(s) identified above. A healthcare foundation may target the local corporate community with naming opportunities to help build a new children’s clinic but target patient families in their donor acquisition efforts.
Get more specific - your message will likely resonate better the more specific you get within your target groups. If alumni are your target audience, those who graduated within 10-15 years will relate to your institution differently than those who did over 20 years ago - consider what campus building(s) goes on the postcard you send them. Patrons who borrow audio and visual materials v. those who borrow books have a different relationship with the library - a book sale may not be of equal interest to both.
Capture the right data - your ability to segment will be as good as the data you have. If you don’t capture dates of service within your CRM, you won’t be able to distinguish between current v. former volunteers, for example. It is important to start thinking about the segments you need a year or more in advance so that you can collect the right data.
Invest in additional data - sometimes the data you have is not the data you need, in which case you can consider appending data from other sources to what you track in the CRM. That doesn’t always involve a vendor - sometimes the data you need is in a filing cabinet across the hallway or another department’s database. Before you invest time or money, however, make sure it’s the right date you’re investing in. Go back to your goals and the specific groups you wish to target and evaluate whether this additional data will help you better define your segments.
Analyze your efforts and keep iterating - test your messages and outreach assumptions on a small subset of your target segments whenever possible. If they’re not responding as well as you’d like, iterate - modify your approach and your segmentation criteria until you get the desired results.
If you’d like to learn more about how artificial intelligence can empower your organization to have a culture of philanthropy, personally reach new donors, and inspire giving at scale, connect with Gravyty today.
Your guide for the Gravyty Fundraising Academy is Director of Data Solutions & Implementations, Marijana Radić Boone. Marijana's career has been built on helping mission-driven organizations use technology to achieve new levels of success. A former Gravyty customer, Marijana understands first-hand how artificial intelligence transforms what's possible in fundraising.