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How To Segment Your Nonprofit Email List and Have Your Most Successful Year Yet



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How To Segment Your Nonprofit Email List and Have Your Most Successful Year Yet

Orange segments on a wooden tabletop. Segmenting your nonprofit email list is critical for successful fundraising.

Email marketing is an engagement tactic many small nonprofits hesitate to dive into.

But email is critical to a successful fundraising program. And it’s no wonder—when supporters opt into your email list, they’re giving you permission to build a deeper relationship. They’re asking for more than simply scrolling by your posts on social media. 

Email list segmentation is a way to maximize the impact of those interactions. It’s a great way to deliver highly-relevant content that connects with and spurs your readers to action.

Segmenting your email list and sending targeted messages can help ensure that your subscribers are receiving content they're genuinely interested in—and they’ll be more likely to follow through on your CTA as a result.

Getting Started with Email Segmentation

In order to properly segment your list, it's best to have only one

Instead of maintaining separate lists for your newsletter, volunteers, and so on, you'll combine everyone into a single list. Then you’ll use segments to divide them further into categories based on relevant interests or behaviors.

Remember that there's no single "right way" or "right time" when it comes to emailing your supporters. Your audience will always be a unique mix of people—so the most important guide you'll have is your own data

That data will tell you the story of your subscribers’ interests and what kind of messaging will be effective for whom.

How to Segment Your Nonprofit Email List

Take some time to perform some basic list maintenance. Merge your contacts into a single list, clean up bounced emails that are no longer active, and address duplicates or misspelled names. 

Once you're ready, you can begin to segment your list based on behaviors or characteristics.


You can divide your subscribers into past, current, and interested volunteers. This is a great way to share details about volunteer opportunities or changes to your policies or procedures. 

Event Attendees

Segmenting your list by event can help you personalize your communications by drawing on a shared experience. You can reference speakers, performances, funny stories, and more. 

Engagement Level

Through segmentation, you might send your regular content to folks who are opening emails, clicking on links, or hitting the "reply" button. 

But for those who haven’t opened your emails in a while, you might check in differently. You could ask if they're still interested in receiving your emails, for example, or what kind of content they'd like to see from you.

Demographic and Geographic Data

You can segment your list based on demographic data or geographic location. This can be especially relevant for organizations who host regional campaigns or run programs for a variety of age groups.

Donors & Donation Level

Segmenting your list based on donor information can help you target your fundraising asks. Consider categories based on donor level or status, like recurring, annual, or lapsed donors.

When donors feel like their individual contributions are being remembered and appreciated, they're more likely to feel a deeper connection to your organization. 

Taking the First Step

You may wind up doing some segmentation manually, depending on the specific needs and activities of your organization. That might take time—but those hyper-specific efforts are also the ones most likely to make an impact. 

Otherwise, you might be able to get away with just clicking a few buttons; services like MailChimp have predetermined list segments you can implement automatically.

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to maintain an active and committed supporter base. Think through the kinds of segmentation that might be appropriate for your organization—and don't be afraid of trial and error!

For the full ebook and more great resources for nonprofit leaders, join NPO Centric’s Membership Program today!