Many 501(c)(3) groups continuously look for ways to improve their nonprofit fundraising efforts. Charities understand that they must not only build and maintain a relationship with current supporters that will encourage them to continue making financial contributions but also open new donor pipelines and connect with these individuals.

It’s an incredibly daunting task that requires both innovation and creativity in order to be effective. The Ice Bucket Challenge is an example of how outside-the-box thinking can encourage people to support a charitable cause.

Many people have likely already seen the videos of people pouring cold water over their heads supporting the ALS Association. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis was discovered in 1869 by Jean-Martin Charcot, a neurologist from France, according to the association’s website. ALS is most commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, the Major League Baseball pitcher whose career was cut short by the debilitating disorder that attacks the nerve cells in the spinal cord and the brain.

In the U.S., ALS affects more than 30,000 people, who are typically between 40 and 70 years old. The Ice Bucket Challenge was designed to raise not only awareness of the disease but also money for research to uncover treatment and prevention options. In a recent press release, the ALS Association stated that the social media phenomenon has already raised $31.5 million in donor contributions between July 29 and August 20 of this year. Over the same time period in 2013, only $1.9 million was raised, and the organization has attracted more than 637,000 new donors who have contributed financially.

What the ALS Association has accomplished with the Ice Bucket Challenge should be the goal of any nonprofit looking for ways to strengthen its fundraising efforts. Although unique in nature, there are other ways, outside of creating a social media movement, that charitable organizations can use to increase financial contributions—one of which is donor segmentation.

Why segmenting donors can be effective

No two individuals are alike when it comes to supporting charitable causes. What encourages one person to give may not be the same motivation for another. These different impulses highlight the importance of donor management software.

501(c)(3) groups can use this technology to find out who their donors are and what encourages them to give in order to carefully craft campaigns that facilitate either increased or continued donations.

Tech Impact, a nonprofit technology company, offers a number of categories that can be used by charities to segment their donors in order to communicate with them effectively and receive their financial support:

  1. Giving levels: Some contributors will make larger donations than others. The supporters who continuously give large sums of money deserve more attention and communication, ideally from the person appointed to manage and run the nonprofit, to develop a deeper relationship with these donors.
  2. Demographics: Every generation is different. Baby Boomers differ from the people making up Generation X, who often have an entirely different motivation from millennials, particularly when it comes to supporting a charitable organization financially. Nonprofits must craft unique communications to each group and encourage them to support their missions.
  3. Methods of giving: Some people like to support a charity by sending them a check in the mail. Others may like to contribute financially over the phone or online. By understanding the uniqueness with respect to the mode of giving, nonprofits can create campaigns designed around these giving influences to drive donations.

Whether a charity develops a strategy that spreads like wildfire over social media, like the Ice Bucket Challenge or is meticulous in uncovering who donors are and why they give, 501(c)(3) groups can ensure that they have the financial support they need to continue their operations.