Way back in 2008, we published The Wired Wealthy a landmark study that started the conversation about connecting with middle and major donors online.

Many of the findings are still relevant today and one, in particular, is still something many organizations we work with struggle to operationalize: The attitudinal difference between donors who see the Internet channel as a source of connection between themselves and the causes they support, as opposed to merely a transaction device.

We like to call the former group Relationship Seekers and the latter All Business Donors.

Relationship Seekers want to connect with you emotionally via the digital channel. They want your videos. They want your action alerts. They want to be invited to Ask Me Anythings with your political team or policy experts. They want to respond to polls. They want updates on how their donations are making a difference. They want to be invited to participate in extra special activities like Insight Panels.

All Business Donors see the digital channel as transactional. They want to easily make donations via your website. They want a tax receipt. And they want periodic impact reports showing how their donations are making a difference.

Organizations get off track because they try to create a “one-size-fits-all” approach. All Business Donors opt-out of emails and SMS updates because the content doesn’t meet their transactional connection expectations. Relationship Seekers feel ignored or misunderstood because organizations fail to create emotional connection.

This type of segmentation is challenging, but not impossible. You can identify and flag All Business Donors and Relationship Seekers by their digital behavior (opens, clicks, and type of content). Further, you can ask donors to self-select into these categories as part of your regular list hygiene efforts.

Donors are craving different things. And “one-size-fits-all” doesn’t fit anyone.


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