What's covered in this guide:

<span style="color:#54b9b3!important; padding-left: 100px;">What's covered in this guide:</span>

1. Segmentation: understanding why different donors give to charity

Segmentation is about getting under the skin of different groups of donors and potential donors. Who are they? What makes them tick? How do they interact with your charity? That knowledge will allow you to divide your audiences into different groups and target each of them in the most effective way.

Why bother?

When it comes to fundraising, one size will never fit all. Your donors are all individuals with different backgrounds, experiences and reasons for donating their hard-earned cash. If you’re going to make people feel valued and inspire them to keep supporting your cause, you need to consider everything about them: from who and where they are, to what they’ve done and why they’ve done it. Thanks to technology and data, plus a little creativity, you can gather this information for your fundraising campaign and use it to tailor the products and opportunities you offer.

How can you do it?

Here’s a whistle-stop tour of the different ways you can segment your fundraising audience:

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Geo-demographic</strong><span/>


This covers factors such as where people live, their age, gender and how much they earn.


It’s data that’s already available and easy to access. It doesn’t require any additional research or work.

X Cons

It’s very general. You won’t have much to go on. For example, it might tell you where the highest earners live, but it won’t give you any insight into their needs or motivations.

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Behavioural</strong></span>


This segmentation looks at people’s past actions and behaviour. You might divide audiences based on when they last donated or how much they gave. Did they sign up for an event or respond to your latest campaign?


It helps you make assumptions about how people will behave in the future, so you can tailor the way you communicate with them.

X Cons

It tells you the ‘what’ but not the ‘why’.

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Attitudinal</strong></span>


This segmentation focuses on how people feel – their values, attitudes and motivations.


It gives you the most in-depth information about why someone has or might support your charity.

X Cons

It requires extensive research to gather the data. It’s more complex to analyse. You’d usually need to use a specialist agency to segment data in this way. 

Unsurprisingly, a combination of segmentation methods is usually the most effective to engage donors and increase donation levels.

Wherever possible, look at attitudes and behaviours together, using context or geo-demographic data too. This will give you the most detailed picture of your donors and potential donors allowing you to group them appropriately for your fundraising campaigns.

2. Cultivating donors through personalisation

Personalisation is a whole lot more than using someone’s name on your email. To build the best relationships with your donors, and attract new ones, you need to be able to offer them what they want in the way they want it. This involves customising content and tailoring communications to make each group of donors feel valued and understood.

Why bother?

You’ve spent time and money getting to know your audience and segmenting the donors according to what you’ve learned. So it would be a waste to send them all the same messages in the same way. Tailoring communications increases donor engagement and boosts conversion. Personalised supporter journeys are vital to a successful donor relations strategy if you’re going to acquire new donors, and retain the ones you already have.

How can you do it?

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Be welcoming</strong></span>

Be welcoming

Develop a series of tailored welcome messages:

Set your charity CRM system to trigger the first email when someone makes a donation. So much more than just a ‘thank you’, this is a chance to build trust by showing people more about what you do, the impact you make and how you’ll use their money to make a difference. 

Ask supporters important questions about their specific interests (volunteering, campaigning, events) and ask how they want you to keep in touch in the future. Read more about data collection.

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Be timely</strong></span>

Be timely

We’re used to getting things immediately these days, so don’t miss the window to communicate with your new supporter while you’re fresh in their mind. You can use your CRM to track donations and start that journey straight away.

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Show you’re listening</strong></span>

Show you’re listening

Ideally you’ll have asked people in their welcome email how they prefer to be communicated with. Action this immediately. A good CRM will allow you to record their preferences, as well as manage your emails, letters and texts in one place, so this should be quick and easy to do.

Be upfront and acknowledge their concerns. Don’t be afraid to say things like: “You’ve told us you’re concerned about us spending money on printing and postage, so from now on we’ll only contact you by email”.

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Think local</strong></span>

Think local

Offering locally relevant content – on and offline – can increase support. Local fundraising group having a bake off in Barnes? Make sure your south Londoners know about it. Looking for volunteer fundraisers? Inspire people with stories about services in their local area. You might do this via an insert in your newsletter, targeted Facebook ads or personalised emails.

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Look for patterns</strong></span>

Look for patterns

Spend some time looking for clusters of similar supporter behaviour. For example, using the map on your CRM, you might notice a certain area of the country where you have a lot of recently lapsed or inactive donors. Do some research into why this might be. Perhaps you signed people up at a local event, but didn’t follow up well enough afterwards. Consider an online awareness campaign in the area.

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Get personal online</strong></span>

Get personal online

Using a combination of cookies and information from your CRM, you can look how users are interacting with your website. Use this insight to help you ‘cross-sell’ events and encourage donations from people who’ve gone on to your site for a different reason, such as getting information or taking part in a campaign.

Expert tips: How to re-engage lapsed donors

It can cost up to 10 times as much to recruit a new donor as to retain an existing one. So it’s worth making time for winning back lost friends.

  1. Find out why your donors stopped donating: It seems obvious, but have you been in touch to ask? Phone calls and focus groups are ideal and even short online surveys will help you build a picture of what’s been happening.

  2. Have open conversations: Find out what your donors really think. Listen to their concerns and ask for suggestions.

  3. Test some new fundraising techniques and approaches: Raffles and prize-led fundraising can be an interesting option to consider with lapsed supporters.

  4. Reiterate your impact in a ‘win them back’ communication: Don’t forget your segments. Keep supporters’ different needs and preferences in mind when you’re approaching reactivation.

3. Integrated fundraising campaigns to increase charitable giving

Everyone in your charity should have the same ultimate goal: making a difference to your cause. Integration is about aligning your fundraising strategies and messages, as well as your systems and processes, to help you achieve this.

Why bother?

Fundraising rarely happens in isolation. It’s inextricably linked to other functions in your organisation. Yet charities can be guilty of working in silos. Remember, people don’t identify with the boxes you put them in. Ever heard someone say, “Oh yes, I’m a warm DM recipient at Charity X”? When you think about your donor audiences, someone who takes part in a fundraising collection one day could call your helpline another. A regular charitable giver might also sign your campaigning petition or run 5k to fundraise for you.

That’s why your planning, thinking and communications need to be joined up and consistent. Integration helps you to avoid over-contacting supporters or sending out conflicting messages. As well as having more impact, an integrated fundraising campaign will save resources, avoid duplicating work and help build your brand.

How can you do it?

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Put an end to the ‘that supporter’s mine’ mentality</strong></span>

Put an end to the ‘that supporter’s mine’ mentality

The information you have about your actual and potential supporters needs to work for all your fundraising colleagues. Integrating your systems can help keep everyone in the loop. For example, is your email marketing platform talking to your CRM? Set it up correctly and you can import metrics back into your donor records. Then you can easily see which donors opened the email. Did they click the link for more information about an event? Did it lead to a donation? This is really useful data for future communications planning.

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Use integration to improve data collection</strong></span>

Use integration to improve data collection

Integrate your CRM with your website and you’ll be able to gather data about online donations and event sign ups, as well as vital data consent information, and keep it all together in one easy-to-access system. Are you monitoring social media mentions and asking for donors’ social media handles? Bring them into your CRM and you have another layer of behavioural and attitudinal data to work with.

Download our guide to choosing the perfect CRM for your organisation

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Let integration help with administration</strong></span>

Let integration help with administration

What if there’s a last-minute issue with an event for donors? Using your CRM to contact them all with a personalised text message will help them feel valued and connected – and could avert a crisis. You can keep track of GiftAid declarations by integrating your CRM with HMRC systems. Once a donor signs a multi-year declaration, you should be able to use your CRM to backdate previous claims on GiftAid – so you won’t miss out on extra funds from every eligible donation. Integrating systems will mean all supporter records are automatically updated, saving time but also helping you collect information about your donors and measure behaviour.

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Integrate messages across channels</strong></span>

Integrate messages across channels

Your emails, letters, fundraising materials and social media messages need to look and sound like they come from you – no matter which area of your charity has written or sent them. Committed supporters could be hearing from lots of different teams at any one time. Coherent, consistent messages will hit home quicker with greater impact. Don’t recreate messages and guidelines for every communication or channel. Focus on your audiences and aims – put your donor in the centre and work around them.

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Get in early</strong></span>

Get in early

Talk to your colleagues at the planning stages of any fundraising or marketing campaign. How can you work together to save time and money? Is everyone’s thinking aligned? Remember, you should all be working towards the same aim.

4. Donor data: make it work for you

Good decisions depend on good information. Collect and interpret data wisely and it’ll help you find new donors and keep existing ones happy and active. Without data, you couldn’t do any of the things we’ve talked about so far. Successful donor segmentation, personalisation and integration all rely on strong, clean data.

Why bother?

The right data will tell you what works and what doesn’t. It’ll help you target the right donors at the right time in the right way. And you can use it to set ambitious but achievable goals. When you have a gut instinct, you can test it by turning to data. Did a segment of supporters respond to a message as you expected? You can use data to strengthen a business case, for example for investing in a new event or extending a fundraising campaign. You don’t need the skills of a technical database manager either. Run straightforward records from your CRM as evidence.

How can you do it?

Make sure you’re complying with privacy rules when you’re asking for supporter information.

Read: 10 questions not-for-profits should be able to answer about General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Know why you want it before you collect it</strong></span>

Know why you want it before you collect it

Data for data’s sake is pointless. The more you have, the more that can be mismanaged or misinterpreted. Have a clear question you want to answer or outcome you want to measure like finding out what day of the week donors make a donation, or the number of donors who watch TV regularly.

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Keep it clean, accurate and consistent</strong></span>

Keep it clean, accurate and consistent

There’s nothing more off-putting than personalised communications with errors, like a mistake in someone’s name or how much they’ve raised in a thank you message. It damages trust. So collect, code and use your data carefully – and check, deduplicate and clean it regularly.

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Don’t overanalyse</strong></span>

Don’t overanalyse

Analytics tools can give us so much information – from what time of day people use Twitter or open an email, to the route they take through a website. Pick one or two things to look at each time, for example what social media channel works best for a specific audience.

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Test one thing at a time</strong></span>

Test one thing at a time

This is vital if you’re going to get clear answers about what’s improving your outcomes. Split testing, for example with two different email subject lines, is an easy way to get instant feedback on what messages inspire action. If one is getting more opens, use that – it could well lead to more donations, event participants and even more long-term donors.

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Don’t waste your findings</strong></span>

Don’t waste your findings

Personalise actions and messages based on what you’ve found out from your data. For example, you might check who opens your event email, clicks on the link but doesn’t go through with the final registration. Revisit those supporters and find out why. Build on what you’ve learned from each analysis you do, and apply your findings to new campaigns. Make adjustments to your fundraising strategy based on what you’ve learned.

<span style="color:#54b9b3;"><strong>Grow expertise in your team</strong></span>

Grow expertise in your team

You don’t need experienced data analysts to interpret data. CRMs have easy-to-use tools to help you find out what you need to know. Get your CRM provider to do some in-house training and share the knowledge within your team.

Expert Tips: Major donor cultivation

  1. When you’re looking to approach new major donors, delve into your data to find your best prospects.

  2. Know everything you can about them and what makes them tick.

  3. Prepare a personalised case for support, using what you know about your donor when approaching them for funding.

  4. Be ready to share your impact stats. What difference could this donor make to your work.

  5. Expect them to do their own research – always be honest and transparent.

  6. Prepare for them to get involved and meet people.

  7. Know who else in your organisation is talking to them so you don’t double up or over contact.

  8. Stay in touch. Don’t disappear once you’ve received a donation. Schedule follow ups in your CRM aimed to engage and retain.