3 Strategies for Sophisticated Supporter Targeting

April 27, 2021  |  Grace Duginski

After your nonprofit has established the foundations of supporter targeting, you can continue to become even more efficient by applying segments in increasingly sophisticated ways. More complex targeting strategies can empower you to do more with less by opening up your ability to use all of your online and offline data to inform your development team’s strategic decisions.

Combining Behavioral and Demographic Data for More Powerful Targeting

Fundraisers always want to ensure they’re sending the right donation ask to the right audience. That’s why targeting audiences with both behavioral and demographic lenses is important in helping fundraisers develop powerful, precise, and actionable insights into your audiences.

Although fundraisers may have the technical capacity to send every message to every donor, that practice runs the risk of fatiguing them (and driving them to unsubscribe.) Instead, identifying specific audiences using both behavioral and demographic data, and targeting them with different messages, helps keep them reading your messages and staying engaged.

Using multiple data lenses to target your supporters can also help ensure you’re not skipping over donors who may want to hear your message. If you define an audience based only demographic data, you could miss out on speaking with people who have taken actions indicating they want to hear from you; if you define only by behavioral data, you might be skipping over people in demographic groups who may find certain messaging resonant. Avoid these scenarios by targeting your supporters along multiple data lines.

Lastly, targeting with both behavioral and demographic data can help you avoid damaging the relationships you’re building by making the wrong ask of the wrong people. For example, you wouldn’t want to contact a longtime donor with messaging about making their first gift; and you might not want to send information about planned giving to audiences who aren’t ready for that conversation. Send the right message, to the right person, at the right time by targeting with both demographic and behavioral data.

Using Historical Segments to Help Donors Progress

To work with donors who seem ready to move into different segments, it’s important to pay attention to historical behavior. Using look-alike profiles can help you do this.

First, look to your complete set of data and create look-alike profiles, and ask yourself: what data do you have on audiences who've taken desired actions?

  • How much time do donors typically spend as members of these audiences?
  • How long does it take for donors to move out of one audience and into another?

Next, compile that data into a profile. Then, use that profile to find others who have a similar profile, but have not taken the desired action.

Chances are, you already have the donor data to gain these insights—your next step as a fundraiser is interpreting it and leveraging it.

Leveraging Technology for More Insightful and Powerful Targeting

To raise more money more efficiently, fundraisers need to be able to predict which donors will make gifts, and how much each donor is likely to give. However, it can be difficult to score donors — or assign them points based on data your organization believes makes them more likely to give — because fundraisers often simply don’t know what they don’t know. This is why machine learning and predictive modeling can be valuable: with all your donor data visible in one place, fundraisers can use that data and leverage technology’s ability to score donors and predict gift-giving in a sophisticated and accurate way, without the need to invest more human hours into that work.

It’s clear: fundraisers can create better engagement and maximize their revenue by targeting the right supporters, with the right message, at the right time. When you get to know your different audiences, and then connect different past, present, and future behaviors to those audiences, you can raise more for your mission.

Engaging more supporters, across more channels, with more targeted messages shouldn't mean more work. Download our complete guide to the Foundations of Nonprofit Supporter Targeting to learn more.