The last few months of the year are crucial for retailers and fundraisers alike. Your potential donors are bombarded with words and images, all vying for their attention and their money. Most people survive the season by ignoring a large percentage of the marketing pitches that cross their path.
And yet, for many, holiday shopping is accompanied by charitable contributions. Making a donation to your college or university one of their choices requires you to be both present and relevant.
Because year-end giving is such a key part of the philanthropic calendar, effective fundraising means making your voice heard amid all the noise. To avoid being lost in the crowd, your message needs to be clear and bold. But how do you manage to say the right thing to the right person at the right time? Let’s consider audience segmentation as one solution.
Audience Segmentation: The Basics
Different types of donors will be persuaded by different types of appeals. A newly graduated alum won’t respond to the same sort of message as a loyalist who has given a significant gift consistently over a number of years.
To avoid being considered irrelevant, it is best to segment your audience in order to send each group the appeal (or series of appeals) most likely to persuade them. One very basic way is to segment based on donation history. Who has donated before? How long ago? How large was their gift? This type of donor segmentation allows you to express appreciation and develop relationships with recurring donors while giving first-time donors the motivation they need to invest in your school.
But the opportunity to target messaging goes much deeper than just considering donation history. Your audience’s age, gender, technological preferences, household wealth, connection to your college or university, and occupation could all play just as large a role in whether they respond to your appeal.
What if you could craft tailored messages that really resonate with each audience? And what if, in doing so, you opened the door to a year-end giving strategy built more on connection than on gimmicks or manufactured urgency?
How Personas Can Help
Audience personas are a way of personalizing the groups created by demographic divisions. The more data you collect, the more you’ll have to work with. But you will also need to decide what sort of group divisions make most sense for you, based on your school’s strategic communications plan.
Consider if you were asked to write two messages explaining the value of a liberal arts education: one to a new contact in Gen Z and one to a faithful donor. Now consider if you were told to write that message for a high school English class in a low SES zip code and for a business leader in your community who is nearing retirement.
While additional data can help you to shape your content, depersonalized demographic data won’t aid you as much as it may seem. The most effective education fundraising appeals connect with donors in a fundamentally human way, appealing to core values of who people are and who they want to help.
Personas work best when the generalizations available from data collection merge with empathetic messaging that tells the story about why education at your school matters.
Invest Now For a Better December
Before you begin crafting the content for your year-end appeal, spend some time revisiting the reasons different sorts of people have for investing in your college or university. Who makes up the community that supports the school? Review the information you have about why people donate.
Then use this to decide which audience segments are likely to help you accomplish your fundraising goals and help you cultivate a community. Creatively using these well-developed personas can help you craft content that connects, cutting through the noise of the season and assisting you in advancing your school’s mission in December and throughout the year.
Is the giving season already feeling a little too close for comfort? Let’s talk today about how Lightstream can provide the resources and expertise to take the stress out of your most successful year-end fundraising season.