Many organizations use traditional RFM (recency, frequency and monetary amount) criteria to segment their file and select mailable names.
While this tool can also be applied to nonprofits, it must be modified to fit the relationship the organization has with its constituents. Too often, an organization limits its focus to transactional interactions which may create a misleading perspective of the supporter base.
The experience of one of our faith-based clients illustrates this well.
This organization has a paid subscription product (inspirational), offers free inspirational reading materials and accepts prayer requests.
As would be expected, more involved constituents are more likely to become donors. People with all three types of interactions are more than twice as likely to donate. (And, as donors they’re also more likely to repeat and more likely to give more.)
If you were considering transactions only, a long-term subscriber would look far more “valuable” than a recent request for free reading materials.
But not so for donor potential!
The long-term subscriber is actually far less likely to give; if traditional RFM were driving your selects, you’d miss that entirely.
Another example. Long-term lapsed donors (no giving in the prior four years) who have a recent (within past 12 months) non-transactional interaction are more than three times as likely to give as other constituents with non-transactional interactions (although they look the same, based on current monetary activity).
In both of these cases, tracking non-transactional activity helps us mail smarter … by enabling us to mail to names we might not otherwise select and/or reduce mailings to contacts less likely to respond.
Are your constituents telling you something similar through their non-transactional behavior?
More to the point, are you paying close enough attention to get the message?