David Stolberg, BDI Strategist/Senior Account Director

Why Nonprofits Should Segment Specialty Donors

Boost your fundraising results with this experiment!

By David Stolberg, Strategist/Senior Account Director

Over the years, my clients have heard me repeat this phrase countless times: “Donors will not give unless you ask!” 

At BDI, we encourage our nonprofit partners to segment specialty donors – Monthly Donors, Society, Newsletter Only, to name a few – and implement a specific touch strategy to keep these segments’ valuable donors from becoming lapsed.

While some of these groups are easy to classify (like putting your top tier donors into a society bucket or labeling someone who has committed to a monthly gift as part of your monthly giving club), some nonprofit specialty donors can be harder to group into segments.

For instance, take your “Newsletter Only” segment. As you head into a new giving season, it’s a good idea to perform a list cleanup to this file. Because over time, this group – often a catch-all for donor complaints about receiving too much mail – can grow significantly. Unless something is done to reevaluate these names, we’ve pigeonholed these donors and relegated them to “Newsletter Only purgatory” for eternity. 

A real-life story to illustrate why this “Newsletter Only” segment should NOT be neglected…  

While deciding which donors should receive the November Newsletter for one of my Rescue Mission clients, I noticed that their Newsletter Only file had grown quite large over the years. After a strategy session with the client, we decided to put this group in their normal mail schedule and basically rebuild their “Newsletter Only” segment from the ground up.  

Rules: This group would be tracked separately from regular donors so that we could monitor response. Of course, if a donor contacted the Mission to complain about the increased mail, we would honor their request and immediately take them out of the mail cycle. 

Timeline: For six months, we agreed to monitor this group, after which time these donors would not be tracked separately – instead, they’d fall into normal RFM donor processing. Initial results were nothing short of remarkable… through the first five campaigns, this has been the strongest performing segment in their mail file!  

Findings: Overall results are below. But across five campaigns, this group generated a 10.70% response rate with a $66.06 average gift. That is nearly a $12 ROI with an additional $107,874 in income for the Mission! 

Mail QuantityNumber Of ResponsesGross RevenueTotal CostNet RevenueRevenue Per PieceROI
15,2611,633$107,874$9,034.51$98,839.16 $7.07 $11.94

If you’re interested in knowing more about how BDI can help your nonprofit clean up your Newsletter Only file with an experiment like this, please get in touch with us now! It might be worthwhile to reach out to these donors once again and give them a chance to respond. And I’ll repeat myself one more time, for good measure: “Donors will not give unless you ask.” So start asking!

Check out last week’s Quick Shot “Back to Basics: The Bounce-Back Offer!”>>


    David Stolberg, Strategist/Senior Account Director

    With 10 years of experience partnering with Rescue Missions and nonprofit organizations, David Stolberg brings his own unique perspective and passion to his role as Account Director and Strategist. Prior to joining the team at BDI, he worked for Nike corporate in sports marketing and worked in sales with a commercial real estate marketing company, and that competitive drive and spirit of innovation still fuels him today.

More fuel for more impact.

Let's talk.