Material Unveils Nationwide Segmentation of Charitable Donors, Offering New Insights into Motives of Philanthropic Audiences



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New segmentation study divides national nonprofit donor population into five distinct types, considering economic, religious, political and social factors

LOS ANGELES – November 21, 2023 Material, a global strategy and customer experience consultancy with extensive relationships across both Fortune 500 brands and institutional and organizational nonprofits, announced today the results of a new nationwide donor segmentation study. Initiated with the goal of helping nonprofits better understand the motivations, concerns and priorities of donors across the United States, this new segmentation divides the national donor population into five distinct “types”: Sacrificing Disciples, Affluent Disciples, Grand Gesture Liberals, Budgeted Secularists and Settled Secularists 

As nonprofits nationwide continue to grapple with the lingering financial impact of the pandemic and a climate of general economic uncertainty, audience segmentation can help fundraisers and leaders prioritize efforts, strengthen messaging and maximize efficiency.  

Fueled by data from a national survey, each donor type encompasses a set of common attributes across economic, religious, political and social factors, providing fundraisers with a new framework for thinking about their current and potential audiences. The insights in Material’s donor segmentation report include: 

  • A detailed breakdown of the attributes that define each of the five donor segments. 
  • Key themes that illuminate the similarities and differences between segments, impacting their donor habits and behavior. 
  • An overview of popular philanthropic causes and the levels of interest and support among each donor type. 
  • Next steps and guidance for how fundraisers can integrate this new segmentation into their databases and donor engagement strategies. 

The full donor segmentation report can be accessed and downloaded HERE. 

“Brands have leveraged segmentation as a key marketing tool for decades, but it is a less common practice for fundraisers and nonprofit organizations,” said Nick Kreider, VP of Insights and Head of Social Impact for Material. “Since many nonprofits operate with strictly limited resources, audience segmentation can be tremendously valuable as a framework to identify targets, guide messaging development and optimize efficiency. Our hope is that this new segmentation will prove helpful to mission-driven organizations seeking to more effectively reach and engage current and future donors.” 

Among the many findings of Material’s donor segmentation study is that 89% of respondents indicate an openness to expanding their current charitable activity to new causes. For nonprofits, this high level of engagement speaks to the vital importance of developing strategies and systems to identify, understand and effectively engage with new audiences.  

“There are infinite potential approaches to segmenting a large population, which can pose significant challenges for any organization,” said Jason Brooks, SVP, Marketing & Data Science for Material. “We designed this segmentation to be specific enough to yield meaningful insights about the motivations and mindsets of each donor segment, but broad enough in scope to have applicability and relevance to a wide array of nonprofits with diverse missions and multifaceted target audiences.” 

As a trusted partner to organizations seeking to deeply understand their complex, evolving audiences, Material has decades of experience performing segmentations for some of the world’s most recognizable companies and impactful, innovative brands. Leveraging a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods with best-in-class market segmentation strategies, Material’s insights and marketing science teams help clients identify optimal pathways for growth.  

“Segmentation is about much more than simply sorting audiences into types and developing consumer personas,” said Bonnie Matosich, Partner, Strategy & Innovation for Material. “On a strategic level, it is about unlocking insights that can lead to transformative growth and expanded impact, whether you are a mission-driven nonprofit or a Fortune 100 company.” 

The findings of Material’s national donor segmentation are based on an online survey conducted in Q4 2022 of n=1,500 respondents, ages 18-76, who had donated $50+ to a nonprofit in the past 12 months, held primary or shared decision making for household donations, and planned to give a donation of any size within a year. The sample matched U.S. census data to ensure accurate representation of the U.S. population.  

This study was designed and performed by Nick Kreider, Jason Brooks, and Essence Williams, Senior Research Associate for Material. 

About Material 

Material is a global strategy partner that combines deep human insights with modern technology – a proprietary Science + Systems approach that speeds engagement and growth for the world’s most recognizable brands and innovative companies. We design + build customer-centric business models and experiences to create transformative relationships between businesses and the people they serve.  

Material has worked with nonprofits including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Kennedy Center, United Nations Development Program, Doctors Without Borders and other global non-governmental organizations. We have decades of experience implementing donor management platforms and using segmentation to help nonprofits attract, engage and retain new donors. Learn more at