Fundraising in a Divided America: A New Nationwide Nonprofit Donor Segmentation



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This article was written by Nick Kreider, Vice President and Social Impact Practice Lead; Jason Brooks, Senior Vice President Marketing & Data Science; and Essence Williams, Senior Associate Strategy & Insights

For nonprofit fundraisers, identifying and effectively engaging with donors is a fundamental challenge. Audience segmentation can be a valuable tool.

Over the past few years, divisive issues like inflation, the pandemic and rising political extremism have opened deep rifts throughout American life. As cultural fault lines seem to widen by the day, where does this leave nonprofit fundraisers tasked with engaging diverse audiences and forging broad donor support to further their organizations’ missions?

With these deep challenges in mind, the Material Insights team performed a national survey of charity-inclined Americans, with the goal of improving our collective understanding of the types of people who donate and the issues that matter most to them. The result is a new audience segmentation that groups national donors into five personas, each encompassing a specific set of motivations, perspectives and sociopolitical beliefs that inform their giving habits.

This segmentation, Fundraising in a Divided America, provides a new lens for fundraisers and nonprofit leaders to think about the people who make up their audiences, and how to engage them.

What you’ll learn

  • Five new, key American donor segments
  • Themes of commonality and differentiation that emerged from our nationwide survey
  • Data on the specific causes that each donor segment is more or less likely to support
  • Next steps for nonprofits to leverage this segmentation to advance their audience engagement and fundraising goals

One statistic from our survey that immediately perked up our ears? 89% of respondents indicated they would be open to exploring new causes to support. That is to say… new donors are out there, waiting for a cause to believe in.