Whether we have 1,000, 10,000, or 100,000+ donors, when we decide to invite each of them to make a gift we have choices to make.
Typically, the first and most discussed choice is focused on segmenting our donors, or deciding which of these donors will receive which of our specific invitations.
If we are doing our segmenting thoughtfully, our first segment choices are based on giving history. For instance, we might decide that more recent givers will receive one type of invitation, while those who last gave years ago, or, perhaps, have never given, will receive a different type of invitation with different phrasing.
We may employ multiple segments in the hopes that each specific invitation will encourage a few more prospects in each group to give. Based on our budget, the purpose of the invitation, the time of year, etc., the decision-making around segmentation may take multiple days or even weeks to finalize.
Conversely, advancement folks typically don’t spend nearly as much energy deciding which story has the most potential to cause these donors to share it with their friends, family, or colleagues. In fact, we rarely ask people to share the story they are receiving with others who also may have an interest.
It is not uncommon to spend far more time and energy focused on segmenting decisions than we do exploring questions like:
“What especially delightful stories can we share about the transforming impacts of our mission that would awaken and animate people to not only give themselves but also share with and encourage others to join them?”
Yes, it’s important to segment our donor lists in strategic and thoughtful ways. The segmenting process helps us grow our donor base. But, by definition, segmenting is about dividing our donor base.
Even more helpful, I think, to balance our segmenting decisions with compelling aggregating strategies. When we do that, we not only grow our segments of donors, we also give ourselves the opportunity to attract more people overall.