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Why Churches Need to Segment Databases


Historically, church databases have been systems that require a lot of manual upkeep. In addition to making sure contact records are up-to-date, they also had to keep track of which members were active with their church and which ones were not. But in a growing church with multiple campuses and a diverse community, having just two category buckets doesn’t provide the level of detail a church needs to effectively communicate with its community. In addition, manual tracking for churches with hundreds or thousands of members is nearly impossible. The good news is, church databases have become much more sophisticated and able to do much of this tracking and sorting automatically.  

Beyond simply knowing which of your congregants are active or inactive, churches that want to more deeply engage members and grow generosity have to know how their congregants are involved with the church and what matters to them. In this post, we’ll highlight how to do this, how other churches have seen success, and the tools that will help you accomplish this.

Learn more about segmenting, tips for success, and how TouchPoint Software can help your church succeed. 

Why Segment Your Database, and How Does it Work?

Instead of just categorizing followers into two groups (active vs. inactive), growing churches should create a larger number of more specific categories. Doing this helps ensure that the church delivers more relevant messages to the right groups of people. 

Let’s say that instead of sending a blanket email with all of the church events on one page, a church could instead create multiple (shorter) messages that only cover specific topics (volunteer opportunity, giving ask, etc.). Then, messages only go to those categorized under certain categories.

For example, under the active bucket, there can be several categories:

  • Volunteers
  • Members
  • Leaders
  • Givers
  • Attendees

For each of these categories, you can get even more segmented and create groups based on location (if the church has more than one campus). You can also break down those who give to the church into categories like online givers, recurring givers, and sacrificial givers. How you categorize people depends on what is important to your church specifically.

So why segment? It helps increase overall engagement, helps to better inform church communication strategies, and allows the right message to be delivered only to those who will be most receptive to it.

Effective communication is sending the right message to the right person at the right time.

The Benefits of Dynamic Segmentation

TouchPoint is software built specifically for churches and their needs. It focuses on what is commonly referred to as dynamic segmentation

Dynamic segmentation occurs when a database continuously queries its records to look for real-time changes that qualify or disqualify people to be placed in target groups based on predefined criteria.

TouchPoint automatically moves people in the database from one group to another when a set criterion is met. For example, if a recurring giver decides to also become a volunteer, they would be added to that group to receive updates from the church regarding volunteer opportunities.

According to Chris Dolan, VP of Product & Strategy at TouchPoint, “You want to communicate to the different segments in different ways. Churches using our software have seen much higher adoption rates and movement of their people because they communicate that right message to the right person.”

Here are the other benefits of dynamic segmentation with TouchPoint software.

#1 – Ability to Measure Success

Segmenting congregants in a database helps give churches a baseline of transparency. When churches have control over how their followers are segmented, it allows them to start measuring those groups and set new goals toward higher engagement, increased giving, and more. When a church first starts using segmentation to find insights in their data, the resulting numbers are often not what was originally expected. While this can be disappointing, it helps to set a baseline for where improvements need to be made and shine a light on things that were not previously visible. 

With dynamic segmentation offered by TouchPoint Software, churches are able to track key metrics such as how many households give, where they stand in the discipleship pipeline, and more. Getting lists segmented in TouchPoint is the starting point for setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based) goals. 

As an example, one large church using TouchPoint had an initial goal to increase recurring giving as a percentage of the overall budget. At first, the church didn’t see much movement. But once they segmented their followers and knew the real status of recurring givers, they were able to come up with targeted strategies to achieve their goal. Just by having a baseline to start from and by measuring something, this church increased its annual giving from 20 percent of the budget to 43 percent.

#2 – Good Communication

When you’re not segmenting, you’re already operating at a loss. The church is not capitalizing on the potential of its base. With the addition of dynamic segmentation, people can be moved into different groups automatically. When your contacts are segmented properly, people only receive the information and calls to action that matter the most to them. It allows your communications with your congregation to be personalized to them.

#3 – Saves Church Staff Time

With the TouchPoint system, church staff no longer has to manually enter information and move records within the database. This can be done automatically. In addition, the system will keep inactive members removed from the active groups so that staff only have to focus on the groups they’re most concerned with engaging. 

In many instances and historically, church staff would have to manually track and move them into static lists. With TouchPoint, it is all automated based on criteria set forth in the system by the church itself.

Tips for Successful Segmentation with TouchPoint

TouchPoint has the flexibility to categorize or bucket groups of people whichever way makes the most sense for a church. Once groups are created, the system analyzes those numbers every day, to update and flag records where needed. There is also a solution within TouchPoint that can determine whether someone is active or inactive, based on the factors determined by the church, and flag that record accordingly.

The Search Builder feature lets churches define groups using any criteria set. It even does things like creating an active volunteer category with parameters determined by the church. These can be registered in the system through online registrations, an in-person application sheet, and other methods. The Search Builder enables church staff to easily find and target specific groups of people with messages that are most relevant to them. 

  1. Start with a baseline in TouchPoint by having the right data, cleaning up your lists, and setting parameters. Then, determine the metrics you want to use for measuring success.
  2. Set SMART goals. These will help give direction in how to effectively grow and engage the church follower base. 
  3. Become a better communicator by tailoring messages to these different segments in a way that will most likely resonate with them. 
  4. Analyze the segments of people who have changed behaviors (i.e., stopped giving, attending, etc.) and figure out the reasons why they did so. Then, try running a reactivation campaign to bring some of them back.
  5. Use TouchPoint’s reporting features to create custom widgets on the homepage. This surfaces only the information that is of most value to your church.

Segmentation helps churches understand their congregants more deeply and helps them grow as fully devoted followers of Christ. The ability to segment your church members automatically saves time for your staff so you can be more efficient and effective at helping your church achieve its kingdom goals.

Brian Bishop
Brian Bishop
Brian has served in church, ministry, and nonprofit work for most of his career. From pastoral work in the local church spanning everything from children's ministry to IT, serving nonprofits across the country with print product from the largest Christian publisher in the U.S., to leading the fundraising efforts of one of the most prominent broadcast ministries in America. At TouchPoint, Brian ensures that TouchPoint churches have the tools and resources they need to maximize the engagement of their congregations. 


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