Segmenting Your Data- Are You Ready for End of Year Fundraising?

The air is getting crisp, leaves are falling off the trees, and you find yourself needing to dig out those winter sweaters from the back of the closet. The arrival of autumn weather also brings a sudden reminder about those impending end of year fundraising campaigns (kudos to those of you who started planning back in July!) and for some of us who have run end of year campaigns in the past, it brings back those fond memories of paper cuts and envelope stuffing parties.

A common response to the question about who should receive the year end fundraising appeal is an over exuberant “Everyone!!!” While mailing to your entire house file is not necessarily the wrong answer, segmenting your data wisely allows you to run a more targeted end of year fundraising campaign by:

  • Segmenting specific audiences and groups
  • Targeting those audiences with an appropriate and eye-catching message
  • Sending those messages to them via their preferred communication channel(s)
  • Getting that message to them at the most opportune time so that they will take action

For many organizations, a “one size fits all” end of year fundraising strategy is not the most effective approach and because mailing to “everyone” usually does not mean “everyone”… we need to dig in by asking some key segmentation questions about who should be included/excluded.

Here are some important segmentation questions:

  • Do you want to target people who already gave this year? If so, do you want to include/exclude those who gave to just a specific fund or program?
  • What about those lapsed donors? Do you want to vary the messaging for those recently lapsed LYBUNTs (Last Year But Unfortunately Not This Year) vs. your SYBUNTs (Some Year But Unfortunately Not This Year)?
  • Want to ramp up your employee giving efforts? This is a great time to publicize employee giving programs to lead you into 2013 or to encourage employees to upgrade their existing gift.
  • What about your major donors and prospects? Will they receive the letter or a more personalized appeal from their gift officer or Donor Services contact?
  • Are you including Board members? Do you want to provide them with a quick summary of YTD giving with a specific targeted ask amount?
  • Want to give your regular or recurring giving program an end of year shot in the arm?
    • Recurring givers can be encouraged to upgrade their gift or bridge their yearly giving total to an upgraded amount for specific benefits or to achieve status in a specific giving circle.
    • This is also a great time to offer new and creative programs for new regular donors to start 2013 strong! Some organizations will offer a special end of year premium for signing up to be a recurring donor (i.e. a small gift, extra two months of membership, or special recognition through their web site or publication for signing up before the end of the year)
  • For those constituents who have clearly stated that they prefer electronic communications, capitalize on their potential desire to go “green” come holiday time- and allow them to creatively support your organization.  Here are a couple ideas:
    • Encourage them to send e-cards to their friends and family for the holiday in lieu of traditional holiday cards- with a possible suggested donation amount.
    • Suggest that they can avoid the rush at the department store and “give” donations, memberships, and event registrations instead to their loved ones- or they can drop the hint to their gift givers to help them support their beloved cause (yours!)

Now that I’ve got you thinking about segmenting your data, here are some additional questions that are important to address when planning your end of year fundraising campaigns:

  • What is the content of your campaign(s)? What will the letter/email/call script say? What is the theme? What response devices will be used?  What is the call to action?
  • Where will this be sent? If tying into other multi-channel communications (which we know you are!), how are you keeping a consistent look, feel, and message across your branded landing page, Facebook posts, Twitter messages?
  • When are you starting the campaign and how do your end of year fundraising efforts fit into your overall communications calendar planning?  Are you planning a series of follow-up emails? What about personal phone calls? How does this fit into the mailing schedule and communications plan for your entire organization?
  • How will it be sent? Are you manually printing the letters, labels, and stuffing them yourself? If you use a mail house, what is their turnaround time for them to get it out the door?  What is the cost breakdown? Quick reminder- always be certain to get a final proof of what the entire piece looks like- letter, postage, and all- fully assembled.

We hope these ideas help to get you on track for planning for your end of year fundraising campaigns! We also would love to hear about your take on end of year fundraising best practices and planning.

Happy Segmenting!