Navigating the Donor Journey: Simple Tips & Tricks to Provide Cost-Effective Segmentation Strategies

Category: Solutions Strategies

The donor journey is a critical aspect of any successful fundraising campaign. Understanding and catering to the unique needs and preferences of your donor can significantly enhance their experience. We often lump all donors together on one path. We know that should not be the case as what one person wants is different than the next, but it’s costly and timely to separate. Let’s explore a few easy ways to deliver a different donor experience — because let’s face it; it’s all about the experience these days. These implementation methods will ensure that your organization effectively connects with donors at every stage and that even the most streamlined CRMs can manage, all without creating additional work for your marketing teams. 

Defining Market Segmentation: 

Market segmentation is the process of dividing a broad donor base of existing donors into subgroups based on shared characteristics. 

  1. Segmentation 

Understanding the demographics of your donor base allows you to create a targeted message that resonates with specific groups. These demographics include age, location, gender, donation channel, and communication preferences. 


  • Age, location, gender, donation channel, and communication preferences can often be captured at time of sign-up. For existing donors, send them a link to an online survey, or include a few questions as part of an outbound calling program. 
  1. Engagement 

Consider categorizing donors by their supporting interests, as this is what brought them to you in the first place. Looking at historical gifts can also provide a sense of what donors have given to in the past. This provides guidance on what’s important to them, what impacts they are interested in hearing about, and what they are willing to give to again.


  • Most campaigns have appeal codes that allow you to separate them from one another. This is an especially good place to focus efforts for monthly donors that can only afford to give smaller amounts, as you want to keep them engaged and focused on the impact they are making based on what brought them to you in the first place.  
  1. Preferences

One of the simplest ways to send different types of communications without additional cost or effort is to parse off pieces of content and send it through SMS, email, or even direct mail. Let’s walk through an example: I recently received a content-rich e-newsletter from a hospital foundation I give to, and when I opened the email and skimmed it, I saw there were nine different links to the hospital’s work along with two separate donation requests. I closed it and thought I would get back to it later, but I never did. For those donors that only wish to receive minimal messages or texts, text them the headline with a link to one article of interest, every week, or every other week. This is a great way to share some or all of the content. You can add a donation link on one of the article pages, or send them a donation request through text as well. Since texts have a far greater reach than email, they’re the perfect way to get the impact of your work across and keep them engaged as they’re easily accessible and time-friendly.


  • If your CRM isn’t set up with a field that identifies donor communication preference, then come up with your own coding method to identify it. As an example, in the comments field (or another unused field), an E could represent email only, a T could represent text only, and an M could represent a mix. When you are ready, you can pull all your donors with a T and send them a shortened version of that newsletter or email. 

Successfully navigating the donor journey doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. By implementing these simple and cost-effective segmentation strategies, your organization can create personalized experiences for donors, enhancing their connection with your cause and ultimately driving long-term engagement. Remember, the key is to continuously analyze and adapt your strategies based on donor feedback and evolving preferences to ensure a dynamic and engaging donor journey.


Carolyn Soro is a marketing and fundraising professional with over 10 years in the non-profit space, having run successful campaigns at Plan International Canada and UNICEF Canada for many years before coming to Globalfaces as VP of Marketing. Now Carolyn heads up all our communication and brand efforts, and works with multiple charities to provide guidance on campaigns and stewardship efforts.