David Stolberg

QUICK SHOT: Why it pays to segment your Specialty Donors

We experimented with a specialty donor segment… and were amazed by the results!

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 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 groups can be a little less clear-cut.

For instance, take your “Newsletter Only” segment. As we head into Spring, it’s a good idea to perform a “Spring cleaning” 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 group should NOT be neglected…

A few months ago, 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: Our experiment started with the December 2020 campaign. We agreed to monitor this group for the first six months of 2021, after which these donors would not be tracked separately – instead, they’d fall into normal RFM donor processing. Initial results have been 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 has 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!

With numbers like that, I’m sure the Mission would be okay with a complaint or two.

But as of now, the Mission has yet to receive a single negative donor response!

If you haven’t touched your Newsletter Only file in a while, or that file has increased in quantity over the years, this healthy experiment might be something you want to discuss with your BDI Strategist.

It might be worthwhile to get out your “spring cleaning broom” and give these donors 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 – “Direct mail prices may seem simple…” >>


    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.

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