Ask this one question to uncover costly segmentation mistakes

16th February 2021

This week I am going to show you how to run one of the most important fundraising reports you will ever use.

I discovered this report nearly two decades ago when I joined McConkey Johnston International.

Bill McConkey and Larry Johnston call this report The Cosmograph – a chart that can help you navigate your cosmos – that is your charity’s supporter base.

What is the Cosmograph?

The Cosmograph is a fundraising report that shows the contribution every supporter segment makes to a charity’s annual income.

To run a Cosmograph report you need: giving data for a full financial or calendar year and the segmentation criteria you use for your fundraising activities.

Once you have these you can:

1. Calculate the number of supporters within each segment

2. Calculate the total amounts given by supporters within each segment 

3. Calculate the % of donors and % amounts given by each segment

Below are the headlines from a Cosmograph we run for a charity that has 6,316 donors and an annual income of £1,423,000.

 4% of donors (major and key) gave a whopping 43% of the annual income.

44% of donors (mostly regular monthly givers) gave 49%% of the annual income.

52% of donors (mass donors) gave just 8% of the annual income.

Would it surprise you to hear that this charity does almost nothing to cultivate relationships with the top 4% of donors and it has no special communications in place to appreciate its regular givers?

What this charity does though is spend a lot of time and the bulk of its marketing budget to send magazines and several appeals a year to the 52% of the donors who contribute just 8% of its annual income.

Why? –  Because this charity, like many others, loves to treat all its donors equally. 

Yet, this Cosmograph report and any other like it will show that: all donors are not equal.

But, most charities love to treat all donors equally. So they keep investing the bulk of their limited fundraising budgets unwisely and, sometimes unknowingly, in mass communications to low-value donors.

And, they ignore their major and regular donors. They fail to invest time and resources in building relationships with those small groups of individuals and churches who are already giving generously and who could do so much more if they are better looked after.

In the case in question, the charity treated the 56 donors who gave 26% of the annual income (£367,485) in the same way, as it treated the 3,307 donors who contributed just £120,563 annually. 

Are you doing the same?

So, why not run The Cosmograph report to see where and how you are investing the bulk of your marketing and fundraising budget.

Then, use the insights you gain to adjust the frequency and types of fundraising and cultivation activities for different supporter segments.

You can treat donors differently while loving them the same.