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-- Keith, Imagine That Ministries
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Just a few of the very important activities that segmentation can help with are:

  • Targeting mailings to donors who have special interests, saving you postage costs and increasing the success of the mailing
  • Sending special materials to donors who are of special help to your group
  • Analyzing different kinds of events (barbecue compared to telethon) to see which Being able to break your mailing list down into different groups of people that share similarities– called segmentation– is one of the most important reasons to use a donor management program like FundRaiserwork best for you, in terms of generating new members, or more donor dollars
  • Comparing similar events, held at different times (annually, for instance) to recognize trends

For all the activities above, the key is creating category codes that work for your organization. Code fields allow you to code information about your donor that does not have a specific place elsewhere. For instance, while there is a place to specify the Type of donor (individual or business, located to the left of First Name)) there is no general field to enter where the donor first made contact with you, or what role that donor plays in your organization, such as board member or volunteer.

In FundRaiser Basic, there are two code fields, which are located just below the salutation field. (FundRaiser Select and Professional have unlimited code fields).You can change their titles to be anything you wish (in the Options > General Preferences menu), and can use them to record such things as a donor's interest in a certain aspect of your work, or the message that the person first responded to. For example, there are likely to be big differences between donors who first joined in response to a friend's request, and those who were recruited by mail.

When you first start using FundRaiser, and are setting up your category codes for the first time, think about tracking these things–

  • Donor category­ such as Board Members, ex-Board Members, Staff, Volunteers. This used to send mailings to only those people who fall within certain categories, or to everyone who does not fall in that category.
  • Donor source­ shows how you first obtained the name for this donor. Maybe they attended an event, or were referred by a friend. This is used to analyze the success of different activities. For instance, if 60% of your new names came from a special event, and only 1% came from talks given to the Kiwanis, then you would probably want to concentrate on special events. On the other hand, if you found that 1% from Kiwanis gave as much money as all of the 60% who attended the special event, then you would want to look for more opportunities to talk to civic groups.

Your group’s specific work will also determine which categories to record. For instance, schools want to know whether someone is an alum and what their graduation year is and animal shelters want to know if someone is a pet adopter, and if they prefer cats or dogs, or both.

Donors may fall into several categories, needing more then one code, such as board member AND volunteer AND event participant. In FundRaiser Basic you are limited to two category code fields. This means that although you can define many different codes, only two can be attached to a specific donor record. Needing more fields is one of the main reasons to move up to FundRaiser Select or Pro.

Category coding is one of the things that improves with practice. At first it may seem awkward, but jump in! If you have already been using codes, spend a little time going back over the one that you have. Experience may have taught you some things that you can apply now to make your targeting more suited to your organization's needs.

Sasha Daucus is Newsletter and Web Content Editor for FundRaiser Software. Through her work at FundRaiser, she volunteers as forum host and facilitator for TechSoup, a nonprofit technology help site. Outside of work, she volunteers for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. In her free time she enjoys nature photography and listening to world music from the Mediterranean region.