chapter 11 Strengthening Relationships by Creating Categories of Donors

I hope it is obvious by now that having a donor is not like having a pillowcase or a table. Donors take maintenance. They are living, breathing beings with feelings and attitudes, and they are being sought by more than 1.5 million other nonprofits. Certainly, they gravitate to organizations they believe in, but if they have a choice between two organizations they believe in and one pays attention to them and the other doesn’t, it is not hard to guess where they will send their money. In an ideal, but impossible, world, we would know something about the personal fundraising preferences of all our donors, such as which ones actually like to be called, which ones don’t like being asked more than once a year, or which ones thinks paper newsletters are a waste of money. We would know which donors love us the best of all the organizations they give to and which ones like us well enough but will never give us a bigger gift than the one they are giving now.

Creating categories of donors, called segmenting, means we make our best guess at these and other variables, partly to meet donors where they are, partly to save us time and money, and mostly to continue to build relationships with our donors as best we can.

Segmenting allows us to accommodate donors who make their needs known without falling into the trap of thinking that if one donor says she hates to be phoned, it must be true that a huge number of our donors ...

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