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The Surprising Secrets of Hyper-Personalization in Fundraising


Sean and Jeff talk about hyper-personalization — using data to speak more specifically to donors.

The takeaway:  Not everything you can do to hyper-personalize is worth doing.

Here’s a way to think about it:

Most important form of personalization: Asking the donor for amounts that are based on her previous giving.

Another important form of personalization: The donor’s name.

Personalization that might be helpful: Mentioning the donor’s city name.

Other personalization that might be helpful: Mentioning dates in the relationship, such as date of most recent gift.

A lot more than this is possible.  But it can become very labor-intensive for uncertain results.

Find out what you can do to connect better with donors through the data you have!

And Sean Triner talks more about using hyperpersonalization at higher levels in his online course that takes you step-by-step through creating an effective Donor Survey (and using the data!). You can find out more in The Fundraisingology Lab.


  • Jeff Brooks

    Jeff Brooks is a Fundraisingologist at Moceanic. He has more than 30 years of experience in fundraising, and has worked as a writer and creative director on behalf of top nonprofits around the world, including CARE, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Feeding America, and many others.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Patrick Fitzgerald
    April 23, 2018 6:02 pm

    Thanks so much for this. It validates the effort I’ve decided to invest in personalising. As I have only managed three mailings, across two organisations, and small mailing populations in each case, I haven’t been able to collect the evidence as to the degree of value my personalisations add. But I need to try and get a serious uplift on this appeal – my second in this role (before perhaps considering these donors tapped out). Given the average value of the donors I’m mailing ($140 to $200 average gifts), the length of time they’ve been giving and the small segments (total less than 2,000) I reckon the time is justified. For the higher value segments, I’m going to open each letter with ‘pull out text’ thanking them for the specific amount, and year of their last gift, and reference to the length of time they’ve given, and some tailoring of the ask phrasing. Let me know if you want to hear anymore about how it goes. Cheers. Patrick

    • Hi Patrick
      Thank you – and definitely interested in how it will go! With this volume there won’t be enough to split test so you have to just go for it.

      For all of them, not just the top ones, make sure they have personalised asks based on previous giving. That will have the biggest impact. Repeat a specific ask for 1.2x their previous gift in the letter copy and on the response device / coupon.

      The average donation is nig. Assuming that it follows the Pareto principle (or close to it) something like 80% of your income will come from just 400 of these donors, so what else can you do special for them?

      Some tips:
      * An extra piece in the pack for special donors
      * Put the top 400 in a big envelope to increase the chance of opening (don’t worry about the cost increase – just one extra gift would cover that).
      * Have a deadline
      * Start from the top and call donors just before the campaign deadline. You’ll likely need to attempt to call over 100 to get 40 or so top donors.

      Good luck!



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