If you’re mailing any sort of fundraising appeals, it’s likely that you’ve been asked to segment the mailing list according to your database audience. Segments offer a few benefits, including making your audience feel like you know them and talk to them accordingly and helping evaluate the performance of the mailing. As an example, your appeal ask to a new volunteer should look different from the appeal ask to a major donor, and we want to track that in the database.

As you prepare your mailing and its segments, it’s important to track what those segments are and who is receiving them.   We do this so we can evaluate the performance of each segment as donations come in and after the mailing is complete.

Basic appeal segments usually include major donors, monthly donors, lapsed donors, and “everyone else”. 

If you think about the total number of letters that were mailed, how many did you mail to each of those groups? And how are you tracking it? Most often, the segments live in a spreadsheet and never make their way back to the database.

Most donor software tools allow segment tracking within your appeals, like Little Green Light or Raiser’s Edge. Other tools like Bloomerang or DonorSnap can be customized as you add the mailing interactions back into the donor interactions.

A screenshot of the Little Green Light database, showing various donor segments and their gift amounts.

In the example above, and in most cases, the Major Donors segment has the highest performance rate, dollar-wise.

A chart with various segments, showing the quantity and total of each segment.

With a quick click of a summary report in LGL, I can see the performance of each segment. When looking at 5 donations from 145 sent appeals to the “Almost Major” category, I might take a look at who is in that category and when they last gave. I would also look at the messaging in the letter that was sent to that group of 145 to see what might be changed in the future, whether it’s a personal note that could be added, or a more specific ask amount.

If you’re doing a mailed appeal and NOT tracking data at this level in your database, it can become easy to fall into the habit of doing the same thing every appeal. However, if you’re tracking the segments in your database for easier analysis, some easy pivot points in your appeal strategy might jump right out at you.