Donor Segmentation

What Is Donor Segmentation?

Donor segmentation is the process of separating your donor base into subgroups, or segments, based on qualities they have in common (think: geographical location, age, education level, donor status, etc.). Segmenting donors allows organizations to send more personalized communication, which all donors appreciate.

How Do Nonprofits Use Donor Segmentation?

Nonprofits use donor segmentation to tailor their donor communication. Creating segments by separating donors into groups based on specific criteria helps organizations create different versions of the same content so that every reader receives something that connects with them personally.

Nonprofits can use donor segmentation to clean up and organize their donor databases. Segments also allow nonprofits to search their databases for specific types of donors. For example, organizations may want to make a special year-end appeal specifically for their major givers. Segmentation will allow organizations to easily locate all of their major givers by searching for “major givers” in their databases.

Donor Segmentation Strategies

The donor segmentation strategies an organization chooses to use will vary depending on their priorities. Fundly, an online fundraising platform, suggests that nonprofits begin segmenting by asking themselves which giving categories matter most to them (how often people donate, how recently they’ve donated, average gift amount, lifetime giving amount, etc.). From there they can form new groups within those groups based on their second most important donor characteristic, and so on. Below are some suggestions of donor criteria by which organizations can segment their donors.

Preferred communication method

Some people may love receiving direct mail, while others may find it wasteful and would prefer to be contacted via email. For those who prioritize convenience, texting may be the preferred method of communication. Segmenting based on communication type ensures that donors receive the kind of communication they desire.

Type of information donors like to receive

Keeping donors engaged is key to securing donations, and providing donors with the type of information they find most interesting is a sure way to keep them engaged.


Examples of demographic segments are age, genger, race, geographic location, and education level.

Preferred giving method

The more convenient it is to donate, the more likely a donor is to do it. Making sure donors are given the opportunity to donate through the method they find most comfortable and convenient will lead to more donations. For some, it’s online giving. Others prefer the security of delivering donations in person. Segmenting based on preferred giving method ensures nonprofits offer the giving options donors want to see.

Bottom Line

Donor segmentation allows nonprofits to customize their donor communication and organize their donors based on different characteristics.

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