17 Ways to Segment Lists For A Year-End Appeal

Segment Your ListsMost nonprofits have lists that include donors, prospective donors, community members, neighbors, corporate sponsors, foundation partners and government funders.   These valuable assets represent the potential for large sums of donations when November and December roll around. Potential is the key word.

Organizations know they could get so much more if they… Well, they are not sure what they should be doing but they believe there is something that would bring in much more money.   Segment lists for a year-end appeal is a good way to start.

A donor who has given on a regular basis should not get the same letter as someone who has given once three years ago. And neither should get the same letter as the neighbor or “never-ever” prospects. Consider the following model of segmentation (or the 2nd list that breaks it down even further):

  1. Donors who gave last year. This can also be broken down into:
    1. Donors who gave for the first time last year
    2. Donors who have given for more than 5/10/20+ years
    3. Donors who gave more than one time in the year
  2. Donors who gave in the past few years (insert your favorite acronym for this group here). This can also be broken down into:
    1. Those who didn’t give in the last fiscal year but did give in the previous fiscal year
    2. Those who didn’t give last fiscal year but gave multiple years before that
    3. Those who didn’t give in the last fiscal year but gave before some major change in the organization (i.e. new Executive Director, new focus, board shift, etc.)
  3. Prospective Donors. This can also be broken down into:
    1. Prospects names provided by major donors
    2. Prospects submitted by board members
    3. “Purchased,” rented or exchanged lists
    4. Community Members
    5. Geographical neighbors
  4. Corporate Sponsors
  5. Foundation partners
  6. Government Funders

You do not need to add in each and every category, but you should consider which categories are represented in your list and which would help you talk more directly to your donors or prospects.

That is the true purpose of segmentation, to connect with the donor on as personal a level as possible. The more generic a letter the more likely it will end up in the recycling bin if they even open up their mail. And that is a waste of everyone’s time and energy.