Segmenting for Fundraising

November 12, 2012

Marketing Musings

While working on an end-of-year fundraising mailer for an organization I care deeply, one of the board members forwarded a great article discussing the use of a long letter for fundraising:

Why Long Letters Outpull Shorter Ones – This article is an excerpt from Jeff Brooks’ new book, The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications: Real-World, Field-Tested Strategies to Raise More Money.

As with any marketing campaign, it’s tempting to try something new, but there’s a risk that it would do less well than the campaign we’ve already practiced from previous years. End-of-year fundraising campaigns are often a huge opportunity for non-profits to meet financial requirements to sustain the program.

So what does one do? We test.

How do we test it, then?

I have a couple of thoughts –

Idea #1:
Split the list into two random parts, where one half gets the pretty card, and the other half gets the new, plainer, long letter appeal.

But then I wondered – that seemed awfully … random … how would I know that one mailer was truly more effective than the other?

Idea #2:
Segment the list according to giving type.

It’s important to ask, why are end-of-year campaigns so effective? I figure, there’s those who donate at the end of the year to help and help with managing their taxes. And then there’s those who maybe don’t have a lot to give, relatively speaking, but do because it’s the giving season, and they care about the cause … that sort of thing.

Are each group have somewhat different motivations – does that deserve a unique message for each?

But if you don’t really know why people from your list have donated before … well, that made idea #2 a little difficult.

SO, Idea #3:
Split the list according to who has given before, and those who haven’t. Send the mailer that worked before to the people who gave before – your tried and true to the tried and trues. Then test the new campaign style to the list who hasn’t been inspired before to donate.

Which way do you think is the best way to split the list?

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