New Data Reveals How Nonprofits Are Segmenting Their Communications

Steven Shattuck
Steven Shattuck



citrusNonprofits have a lot to communicate. From gift solicitations to gift acknowledgements, there's no shortage of touch-points to prospective and current supporters. When you factor in communication preference -- email, print, and digital -- along with past interaction data, the intricacies of a robust fundraising campaign can rival that of any major marketing initiative in the for-profit sector.

But are nonprofits harnessing the power of communication segmentation?

In conjunction with Nonprofit Marketing Guide, we at Bloomerang recently surveyed a group of small-to-medium-sized nonprofits ($5 million in revenue or below) in the United States and Canada to see if and how they are segmenting their emails, newsletters, and gift acknowledgements.

Survey Highlights

  • Most nonprofits are familiar with communication segmenting.
  • Little middle-ground exists; segmenting is either prolific or non-existent.
  • Past donor interactions, not demographics, are the most common segments.
  • Data uncertainty prevents nonprofits from segmenting.

Here are the full survey results:

Over 80% of nonprofits are familiar with segmenting.


The concept of segmenting is not foreign to nonprofits. But are they doing it?

64% of nonprofits are segmenting their communications.


Communication segmenting has a nearly 2/3rds adoption rate among nonprofits. This is excellent news when you consider the impact that personalized correspondence has on fundraising.

Of those not segmenting, a lack of knowledge, technological ability, and data mistrust are to blame.



Over 1/5th of those not segmenting cite a lack of knowledge on how to do so as the primary reason. Others struggle with the efficacy of their data and lists:

  • We aren't sure how to best segment: 20.71%
  • Technological barriers: 9.18%
  • We don't have the right data: 8.47%
  • Our list is too small: 5.88%
  • We don't trust our data: 4.94%
  • Don't see the value: 1.65%
  • Our list is too big: 0.94%

It would appear that more how-to education is needed in the sector on how best to segment communications. Nonprofits who aren't yet segmenting can get started easily by focusing on their gift acknowledgements first.

Of those segmenting, a majority has 5 or more segments.


Those who have bought in to segmenting have done so in a big way. Given that technological barriers are pervasive within the sector, it's safe to assume that nonprofits are either lacking the tools completely or have something with robust capabilities.

Donation amount and action history are the most common segments.


Segment types among adopters are as varied as they are numerous:

  • Donation amount: 36.47%
  • Action history (donated, or completed some other call-to-action): 30.12%
  • Communication preference: 28.24%
  • Donation type: 26.12%
  • Duration of support to the organization: 24.00%
  • Email activity (opened or clicked on links in a previous email): 10.35%
  • Age: 7.53%
  • Income or net worth: 5.65%
  • Gender: 3.06%

Research indicates that not all donors are created equal. Segmenting by interaction history is key, but nonprofits appear to be ignoring demographic data. Age, in particular, can be a very powerful differentiator.

How is your nonprofit segmenting its communications? Let us know in the comments below!

nonprofit email cta


Related Articles

We're committed to your privacy. HubSpot uses the information you provide to us to contact you about our relevant content, products, and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For more information, check out our Privacy Policy.

Outline your company's marketing strategy in one simple, coherent plan.