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Learn how to segment your annual campaign

Posted June 9, 2014 by Hunter Williams

Click on image to watch a 2 minute video explanation.


This pyramid represents a simple segmentation you can use when planning your annual appeals. The higher up in the pyramid, the more important the segment is in terms of reaching your fundraising goals. That’s because the higher in the pyramid, the more likely these constituents will contribute to your organization. At the same time, however, the higher you go up the pyramid, the fewer constituents you’re likely to have in your database.

Be sure to watch the two-minute video explanation.


  • Invites: People you are asking to give at a higher level (you’re inviting them to invest more)
  • Renewals: People you are asking to make a contribution equal to the last one they gave
  • Recaptures: Lapsed donors you’re trying to get back
  • Transitions: People who are engaged in your organization as volunteers or event attendees, but have never
    made a financial contribution
  • First-time donors: You guessed it, they’ve never contributed or volunteered at your organization

How do you use this segmentation?
First off, the pyramid tells you where to focus your efforts. You will probably write a letter to every one of these segments, but you should also have your executive director sign and add hand-written postscripts for the Invite and Renewal segments ahead of any others. And you should consider making phone calls to the top few segments, especially the high value prospects in those segments.

Second, the amount you ask for will vary by segment. Yes, you will want to take into account past giving amounts and giving capacity, but the higher in the pyramid the more you can push toward a higher ask amount. That’s because as you move up the pyramid, the more engaged these constituents are with your organization, so the more they are likely to be willing to invest in your cause.

And last but not least, you should measure your fundraising results by segment. Measure your conversion rate (percentage who give among those you’ve asked) and median giving amount (the mid-point of giving amounts) by segment, and year over year. The reason is that if you blend all your metrics together, you’ll miss key insights. For example, if your conversion rate for your Renewal segment drops from 70% to 50%, that’s an indication of a serious problem. But if you only measure total metrics, that number could get lost among the more voluminous segments.

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