3 things, 3 ways – personalization, segmentation, conversation

It’s an art to know your audience and it can make or break your fundraising. We share 3 things (in 3 ways) to help you get it right.

We hear you – right now the only “ation” you might be interested in during this cold weather is “holidays”. But if we can, we’ll get you back to the job at hand. Because we want to talk about three “ations” related to fundraising – personalization, segmentation and conversation – and give you three ideas for each. With these at your fingertips, you’ll improve your donor experience and your fundraising results.


PURL- or “Personalized URLs” – are a fundraising initiative whereby a donor receives a PURL-based eDM from a non-profit organization. The information in this eDM is personalized for that specific donor, with a unique link that leads to a personalized landing page designed just for them. From the donor’s perspective, it feels like you know them, get them, and wrote every piece of communication just for them. It also makes life easier for the donor, as custom landing pages are often pre-populated with supporter details.

You can watch Parachute Digital’s Shanelle Clapham dive into PURLs on our YouTube channel here and Donor Republic’s Andrew Sabatino explains more about PURLs and how to implement them here. Donor Republic recently shared that using PURLs for the first time helped Blind Low Vision NZ significantly improve their email results (compared to previous appeal emails) in their recent appeal for guide puppies. These results were a 106% increase in gross revenue, a 68% increase in conversions to donate, a 22% increase in average giveaway value, and a 469% increase in page conversion rate. destination.

variable copy – when writing call copy, you should cater to both skim readers and deep divers. This latter group will benefit from copy that feels personalized to them as they go through every detail of your letter or eDM. This can be achieved by selecting copy sections and modifying them according to the donor. DM enthusiasts, Médecins Sans Frontières Australia, struck the sweet spot in two variable paragraphs per letter (personalized to the donor and/or segment). Common variations include reference to support being a regular donor, major donor, heir and/or elder (in college fundraising), vindication (for high-value donors) versus emotive language ( for low value donors), a reference to the donor participating in one of your previous events, and of course, the common variables of dollar handles, requested amounts and name.

Variable copy should not be limited to requests. Barnardos Australia has developed a major donor and standard receipt letter with variable copy that acknowledges and thanks donors who have sent a message of support with their Winter Appeal donation.

Local content – in what ways can you show that you care about what is happening in the local areas of your donors? When you do this, you make each supporter feel like you are personally invested in them and their world. Can you include animal cruelty statistics that apply to the donor’s city? Do you offer a program in their area that you can connect to? The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation used localized content as an acquisition tool in its recent Sydney Sick Kids Appeal. They sent postal mail to audiences who are either located based on needs supported by the foundation or based in areas flagged as places where residents are most likely to donate.

Note that anything you “locate” in your copy should be an easy-to-manage variable data field – anything that gets tricky for your messaging service or messaging tool will make your campaign unmanageable, especially with a large number of donors and/or segments.


Audience identification – think about the service you provide and the people you want to target. Then examine the main characteristics of this demographic profile.

For example, if you provide elder care services, your target audience might be seniors aged 75 and over. However, it doesn’t stop there. By association, you also target their families, who then fall into another subset based on their age and socioeconomic background. Your target audience is often larger than you think.

By identifying your audience and understanding their behavior, you are better equipped to identify your most valuable supporters. This is where the Pareto principle comes into play – around 20% of your audience provides 80% of your value and your efforts should reflect this.

Segment vs Character – if you don’t understand the difference between segments and donor personas, consider campaign/donor segments as high-level categorical classifications of groups of people, while characters shed light on specific details that speak to one type of person – their experiences, goals, or motivations. Based on qualitative data, personas are used early in the audience identification process to give prospects and donors personalities and preferenceswhile segments, built from quantitative data, help fundraisers reach their target audiences. Google will provide a series of information on how to develop a donor persona – this article is a great start. You can also use the information you have – for example, using analytics tools on your website and social media channels will help you track the behavioral traits of your audience online.

The four kinds – to segment your audience, group them based on unique things they have in common that can be targeted with a particular message or fundraising approach. There are four main types of segmentation:

  1. Demographic segmentation is performed based on age, race, religion, gender, family size, ethnicity, income and education.
  2. Geographic segmentation targets audiences based on their location. You can divide your audience by geography, such as city, state, country, or international region. You can also divide the audience into rural, suburban, and urban segments.
  3. Psychographic segmentation is not necessarily as concrete and easily recognizable across audiences. This requires categorization based on aspects such as personality, lifestyle, and values. Donor personas may be more useful here.
  4. Behavioral segmentation requires that audiences be grouped based on their behavior patterns, which include considerations such as how much people spend (or donate), the products or services they use, brand awareness, and loyalty. This, of course, is especially useful for fundraising organizations.

Trick : Don’t create an onerous number of segments and try to keep them consistent across calls, campaigns, and years so you can track and compare each segment’s behaviors, results, and growth/decline.


Consistency – donors like to build relationships with the organizations they support and one of the ways to do this is to ensure that a supporter always gets a call from the same member(s) of the ‘crew. Plan International Australia incorporated this approach into its mid-value growth strategy, when it found that donors respond positively not only to building relationships with the fundraising team, but also with center staff. of calls.

Be vulnerable – because it is by exchanging vulnerabilities that we build trust. And if we don’t show vulnerability, how can we show need? If there was ever a time when charities peeled back the layers and showed how vulnerable they are, it was during COVID-19. Many nonprofits kept their doors open by having conversations with donors, trusts and foundations, and the government in which they communicated how exposed they were and how they needed additional unrestricted funding.

Not all conversations are created equal – the thing is, the amount your donors give varies wildly and those who give the most need to hear from you in a very personalized way (unless they’ve asked you to leave them alone and let them give ). That usually means phone calls plus Zoom and in-person meetings. It could even mean inviting a donor on a field trip abroad.

As each call approaches, call your high-value supporters before sending their mail to let them know what the campaign is about – if the call is for a specific program or project, invite them to meet your CEO or relevant program manager; it can result in a large gift. Be sure that all the donor who gives more than a certain amount (it could be $500 or $5,000 depending on your charity) receives a thank you call. Call deeply committed donors regularly to update them on your work (made possible by their generosity) or invite them to quarterly onsite updates. Whatever your reason for reaching out, use the conversations as an opportunity to really understand your donors’ interests, motivations and needs – they may be different than you think.

And finally!

All of these initiatives, especially personalization and segmentation, lend themselves to testing – and testing, you should! In order to test, implement and report on personalization, segmentation and conversations, make sure your CRM is clean and your marketing automation tools are up to date.

To learn more about segmentation, click here.

For more customization examples, click here.

To learn more about the art of conversation, click here.