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The Path to Donor Centricity: Selecting the best offer

We have arrived at the final step in our people-based analysis process. So far, we have predicted the future value of each donor, segmented them, and understood what motivates them to give. Lastly, we need to select which offer is best for them.

I see many organizations make one of two mistakes at this stage. 

  1. Some nonprofit marketers are still thinking from their own perspective and not from the donor’s. They send donors whatever offer most benefits the charity or their own specific area of responsibility within the organization. 
  2. Some feel they can choose the best offer to serve based on everything they have learned to date about the donor. The fact of the matter is that they cannot. Individual donors from the same segment, with the same likely value may still prefer to give in a different way.

Luckily, there is a straightforward approach to predicting which offer will best suit each donor. My retail clients use a sophisticated Naïve Bayes approach that leverages machine learning to dynamically adjust the products shoppers are offered based on their up-to-the-second actions. Think: Target sending you an email with helpful products related to the items you just purchased over the weekend.

Nonprofits can borrow this concept, but use a less complex method to get the same outcomes. Why less complex? Because nonprofits have fewer “products” to offer.


The best way to select the right offer for each donor is to build a series of propensity models –  one for each offer. You can then use the outputs of each model, or the probability to choose that offer, in your equation to select the right offer for each donor.

With targeting the offer, we have reached the end of our people-based analysis process. The table below gives an example to help take stock of what we now have at our disposal.

You now understand the future value of your donors, who they are, how they’ve engaged with your organization in the past, what motivates them, and to which offer they will respond. How will this improved understanding of your donor help you build better fundraising strategy? 

If you are interested in going deeper than a blog post, read the other blogs in this series and watch our webinar on demand, The Path to Donor Centricity: The Analytic First Steps or get in touch with me directly at [email protected]

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