4 Ways to Segment Your Fundraising List

When you communicate with your supporters, you want to treat them like individuals, not like one group. Mass mailing the same message to your entire list will make you seem generic and impersonal. Learning about the traits and behavior of each supporter will allow you to segment based on those traits and send the right content at the right time — and, most importantly, to the right people.

In this post, I will discuss four ways to segment your list to effectively increase supporter engagement.

1. First-Time Donors

First impressions are essential to developing relationships, and that’s exactly what you want to do with new supporters: develop a relationship. A strong relationship will result in an active supporter. Using a dynamic segment to capture the moment your supporter first gives will allow you to reach that person at the right time with the right content. It’s with this great first impression that will turn your first-time donors into repeat donors.

To learn more about what you can do with First-Time Donors check out this blog post:

Automated Thank You Notes

2. Recurring Donors

Everybody knows that these donors are critical to your fundraising efforts. They have committed to giving over a long period of time. Letting them know how much their loyalty means to you and your organization is really important. Since they’ve already committed to contributing on a regular basis, they shouldn’t get every fundraising email.  You can use this segment to exclude recurring donors from your large fundraising newsletters.

3. Segment Based on Donation Size

Donation size segments mean different things to different organizations. Most organizations think about their donor groups as large and small donors, but there are other donation size segments you should be considering.

  • Small donors: I usually consider a small donor to be someone who has donated less than $50 at a time. If they’ve given a small amount, that usually means that they want to be engaged, but may not be willing to be a major supporter. Communicating with these folks about other ways they can support your organization may be much more worthwhile than just asking for more money (volunteering, attending an event, telling a friend, etc).
  • Medium donors: Medium donors are those who maybe give between $100-$500, often annually at a gala or during your end of year fundraising drive. These donors are the ones that you should try to convert into recurring donors. They make up a big portion of your total contribution dollars and getting them to commit on a monthly or quarterly basis can help you create a more stable revenue stream.
  • Large donors: You want to keep your large donors happy and engaged. Thank them personally, with a phone call, direct email, or an in-person meeting. Make sure they know that their support is critical to your mission, but also treat their inbox with respect. They don’t need every fundraising email. Keep them updated and informed, but give them their space.

4. Segment Based on Donation Timing

Knowing who has not donated recently is just as important as knowing who has. If a past contributor hasn’t given or engaged for 60 or 90 days, send them a personalized email thanking them for their past contribution while letting them know what a second donation can do to help your cause. There might be a reason for why they been disengaged. Maybe ask why, or see if there is anything they are particularly interested in.

On the other hand, knowing who gives often can help you convert regular repeat donors into recurring donors. If a supporter have given multiple times in the past couple months, you’ll know in your repeat donor segment. Then you can move forward with a campaign to convert those repeat donors to recurring donors.


Segmentation is very important, but it shouldn’t be difficult. Using your donation and email data to dynamically segment your list of supporters should be straight forward and take just a few minutes. You should be able to focus on what to say to them rather than spending time building the segments each month. Make sure you work with an email platform that facilitates this.

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