Segment, sure. But then what?


It's not enough to simply identify segments among your supporters; you have to put that knowledge to work!

That may require some initial housekeeping. Can you define the key identifiers that determine which segment a constituent fits? Are you tracking and storing that information by constituent now? Do you have the ability to retrieve it so you can select constituents on those parameters, i.e., so you can target communications on an ongoing basis?

And then, how do you treat different segments differently? It can become very mind boggling very quickly.

In helping Harvesters–The Community Food Network implement implement our initial analysis, our recommendation was to start first with the area that offered the greatest return and seemed most realistically achievable.

The "Advocate" segment contained the smallest number of constituents, but included the people who gave more...were more likely to give again...and were more likely to increase their giving.

It was the perfect place to start.

So, what could we do to recruit and retain more advocates? For Harvesters, the opportunities were grouped in three broad areas:

  • Create/expand opportunities to learn about the organization's mission
  • Create/expand opportunities to give (more)
  • Break down silos internally


Opportunities to learn

When working with a prospective major donor, Harvesters would often try to schedule a tour of their facilities to demonstrate both the volume of food handled and the efficiency with which it was managed. They scheduled a series of these tours–"Behind the (Food) Barrels"–and invited targeted groups of supporters.

They also began to schedule a series of meetings–"Kitchen Table Talks"–in which the Executive Director could explain key initiatives, discuss current priorities and answer supporters' questions.

Opportunities to give

After seeing the value of crossover (constituents involved with multiple types of interactions), Harvesters cancelled one of three planned acquisition mailings and replaced it with an appeal that went to volunteers. The acquisition mailing was not expected to break even; the volunteer solicitation was extremely successful.

The organization also created a new level of support at the annual signature event…higher than an individual ticket, but lower than a corporate sponsorship. They built incentives into the offer, including a champagne reception (and chance to mingle with key managers).

They also began a more targeted effort to communicate planned giving opportunities, including a formal recognition (Seeds of Hope Society) for people who included the organization in their will.

Break down silos

Internally, directors of the key areas–fund development, volunteer services, food acquisition–focused on implementing this approach.

They refined the definition/parameters for the Advocate level to ensure a manageable number of constituents. They scheduled presentations with managers in their areas to share the analysis and explain the approach.

Recognizing the importance of working together to nurture and encourage these key supporters, they began to schedule regular meetings to discuss who was coming to visit, who they would be meeting with, etc. They looked for opportunities to present themselves as a single organization, not multiple units.

Analyze.
Prioritize.
Utilize. Commit...communicate...act!

As already said: it's not enough to simply know your supporters; you have to put that knowledge to work!