Your Nonprofit's Audience is King! Part 2: How to Learn More About Your Current Market
Posted by Chris McKinley at Nov 12, 2014 07:01 AM CST

In part 1 of my blog article series, Your Nonprofit’s Audience is King!, I stressed the importance of knowing who your current audience is -- your donors and supporters -- and the need to segment and learn more about their demographics.  

Now, let’s look at better understanding you constituents’ demographics and psychographics, and how that will help you develop your stories and calls to action, and inform the most appropriate multi-channel mix for your campaigns and strategies.  

Your Constituents’ Demographics

Homing in on your constituents’ demographics, along with transactional knowledge of the audience, can really help shape your strategies and tactics. Previously, we identified four primary audience segments:

  1. Donors
  2. Actively engaged or interested, but not donors
  3. Both 1 and 2 above
  4. Lapsed – or passive 13+months

We know that there could be an infinite number of subsets to these segments -- however, if we can learn more about each of the four segments at a high level, and which traits differentiate them from each other, we are well on our way to developing meaningful and data-informed marketing strategies.

The four segments are a combination of behavioral and transactional groupings.  These groupings alone are fairly powerful, but when appending additional demographic data, you get the added value of having strength and confidence when developing your integrated marketing plan.

Adding Demographic Information to Your Audience List

Marketers have two basic options to choose from when considering the demographics of their file:  

  1. Provide every segment list to a vendor and have them run a profile on each segment. This is a great option and will provide you with some directional information.  
  2. Work with a vendor and identify the key demographic attributes you would like to append to your file. Keep in mind that budget considerations may make this decision for you.

By directly appending demographic and psychographic attributes to your file, you will have the additional flexibility to:

  1. Develop your own profiles -- who is donating or taking actions and to which offers. This knowledge can inform both your cultivation and acquisition list strategies.
  2. Create subsets -- if you began to see trends within the above four segments, you may want to create subsets. For example, a subset could be men respond better to certain types of appeals vs. women.
  3. Optimize segmentation -- demographics combined with transactional data (Recency, Frequency, Monetary, or RFM) can help identify profitable sections within an RFM segment that was historically deemed as unprofitable. By reviewing demographic data next to unprofitable and profitable transaction data, new testing ideas may blossom in addition to fine-tuning your segmentation strategy.

The most popular and actionable demographic attributes that may be appended tend to be: gender, age, marital status, ethnicity and household income. Age is probably your most important attribute, as it can begin to shed light on a constituent’s lifestage. Generally speaking, when developing a fundraising strategy, you need to market to constituents with some means to give, which often means an older group. For advocacy campaigning, however, you could target younger supporters. This is a great example of how demographic data and your four segments will begin to drive new strategies and planning developments.

Stay tuned to this blog for part 3 – How to identify your best donors and bind them to your mission.

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Avalon Consulting
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