Mid-Level Appeals Can Be Game-Changers In Fundraising

Anyone in the fundraising or nonprofit community already knows that more than the majority of donations are prompted by direct response, primarily direct mail. In fact, direct channels account for over two thirds of all giving. The more creative the program, the better it is at producing upward donor growth.

Accordingly, while direct-response programs rely on a one-to-many approach in order to maximize all of the donor touchpoints in a multichannel fundraising strategy, far too many nonprofits connect with mid-level donors using something as rudimentary as an enhanced direct response program.

How Mid-Level Appeals Differ

Fundraisers working to build a mid-level appeal program need to understand that committed, mid-level donors require less appeals and more communication about their gift’s impact and stewardship. Correspondingly, mid-level donor programs should have their own annual marketing and communication calendar, often highlighting communications in the spring and fall. In general, the most lucrative time for donations comes at the end of the year, which is when you’ll send your annual appeal letter and coordinate your email and mailing campaigns.

If you spend time identifying members of this mid-level donor group and engage with them in a meaningful way, you’ll likely find some people who may be ready to invest even more.

Success Points for Mid-Level Donors

These points can help you achieve the desired success with mid-level donors:

• Identify donors who have the capacity and propensity (ability and willingness) to give. The top priority for messaging to mid-level donors should not focus on short-term revenue gain. Rather, the primary goal is to move donors into a more committed relationship and to also identify those who are able and willing to make transformational gifts.

• Cultivate a dialogue with mid-level donors. Understand individual donor intentions. The adopted strategy or program must have a dialogue-based component to enable the donor to engage in a two-way conversation with your organization. This requires investment in specialized marketing and communication calendars, multichannel communication and asking donors for feedback.

• Bridge your mid-level donors to a more personal relationship with your organization. Ultimately, mid-level programs exist to move donors into a one-to-one relationship with a gift officer to foster transformational gifts. A successful mid-level program requires an investment in professional staff to steward the donors in a manner appropriate for the gift level as well as a desire to listen to the donor group and make them feel like your “insiders.”

Mid-Level Strategy

Here are some of the key items to remember when creating a mid-level strategy:

• People give to people—not organizations, fundraising programs or email machines. The “sender” of your communications, whether it’s one person or several, has a great effect on the success of your fundraising. People want to be communicated with, not marketed to; they want to make a connection with the sender.

• Address your donors by name. Studies have shown that one-third of organizations do not address their mid-level donors by their preferred name. If a donor just gave between $1,000 and $5,000 to your cause, you should be letting him or her know that your organization appreciates his/her gift. Deep and unique donor-directed personalization can generate massive increases in conversion rates.

• The two most powerful words to share with your donors: thank you! Most organizations do not thank donors nearly enough. We suggest the well-supported “three thank you” rule: give them a call, send them a personal email and absolutely send them a personal letter. When you let your donors know you are grateful for their gifts, your appreciation will likely help you to secure a more generous second gift…and may also create a vocal opinion leader of your organization in the process.

Get Results

A strong mid-level program often builds a stronger major donor program. Cultivate wisely and spend time getting to know these donors who have often grown as givers within your organization and are starting to build a real relationship with your organization.

#nonprofit #fundraising #midleveldonors

Brian Weiner, April 13, 2022

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