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Why Non-Profit Organizations Should Embrace the Power of Segmentation

blackbaudWith the help of data and the right technology, your organization could be actively engaging in conversations about the most important topics for your donors, grantees, community, and more. Tracking the preferences and personal information of stakeholders allows you to personalize communications, so audiences only see the most relevant information for them. That means higher engagement (personalized emails increase conversion rates by 10%), but it also forces your organization to identify established business goals. Now that you’ve gotten their attention, what action, exactly, do you want your engaged audience to take?

The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation (AKCCHF) uses segmentation to make personal appeals to donors. The foundation supports scientific research for canine health, and the lag time between a donation and measurable results can be lengthy. To ensure that donors remain engaged, AKCCHF uses donor segmentation. A CRM product (in AKCCHF’s case, the organization uses Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT®) allows the organization to track a donor’s historical investments so that the foundation can identify areas the donor has prioritized in the past. Communications can then be focused on progress toward specific canine health outcomes. AKCCHF can take this detail a step further when outbreaks occur in a specific area. By layering geographic information with subject affinity data, AKCCHF can target communications to urgent areas of need after an outbreak and drive immediate relief from impacted donors.

Achieving the level of donor segmentation AKCCHF enjoys today requires a large amount of data organized into segments by relevant details to deliver communications that will result in the most impact. This included the identification of 25 research areas, along with other areas of focus they think will dictate future donor decision making. While this makes the foundation’s donor communications significantly more effective, there are other, simpler applications of segmentation in an organization, as well.

Two Ten Footwear Foundation provides support to employees of the footwear industry in the United States. The recipients of this support can span age groups, geographic areas, professional experience levels, and income levels. A large focus of the foundation moving forward is providing footwear employees professional resources, like networking groups, training, and events. For these initiatives to be successful, Two Ten needs to be able to promote these resources and reach the appropriate groups in places they digest information. If trying to communicate to a slightly older group, leadership may use email.

Segmentation practices can come in all shapes and sizes, and different levels of effectiveness. As you dive deeper into one’s preferences and collect more data, you’ll get closer to speaking to each of your constituents in a preferred way, thus strengthening relationships with your organization. However, as we’ve shown, even high-level segmentation can provide a positive impact on your ability to do your work. It’s likely you’re using segmentation today without even realizing it! Think about it. The level of detail you report on a grants program, as well as what metrics you share, differ if you’re presenting to your board of directors versus a grantee.

At the heart of segmentation is the fundamental idea of knowing your audience.

Even if you’re at the beginning of the personalization journey, just beginning to collect data, you do know one thing. Donors, grantees, board members, and your community share a common characteristic: passion. Philanthropy is an area that requires a passionate commitment from its members and a desire to drive positive change. Begin by using this knowledge to craft your story. As you learn more about the various audiences you’re speaking to, as well as what action you’re looking for each to take, you can alter that story for each audience.