If like me you’ve been a fundraiser for a while, you’ve heard mid-level donor and mid-level giving program come up a few times in the last few years. But there is so much information out there, how do you make sense of it all?
Fear not! My hard-won, 7-step guide to kick-starting your mid-level program can give you the short-cut you need to get the ball rolling!
1. Start with clean data. Clean data always makes me think of my incredible “still deceased” donor. No, I wasn’t soliciting deceased donors. It was an unclean acquisition list that sent the same appeal to the donor in question multiple times. The donor’s family chose to approach it with a sense of humour, and returned the package marked “still deceased”. But dirty data stories don’t always have such a happy ending. I can’t stress this enough. If your data is not clean, you will double your work, inflate your numbers and quite frankly – waste your precious fundraising time. Clean up duplicates, update information, run NCOA updates, remove inactive donors. Think of it like a nice long spa day – for your data! Now that your data is squeaky clean, my colleague Phil has some great tips on how you can keep it that way!
2. Now that you’ve purged your data of defunct items, find your mid-level donor. Determine the average gift for your annual giving file, and use it to determine your mid-level donors. Anyone giving over the average gift amount and under the major gifts’ threshold can technically qualify as a mid-level donor.
3. Once you find your mid-level donors, segment them! A donor who makes a one-time-gift of $1,000 per year doesn’t have the same giving capacity as a $100 a month donor, but their Long-Term Donor Value (LTDV), or the estimate for how much money you can expect to receive from them over time, is the same. Segment your donors in order to speak the language that reflects their giving capacity.
4. Done segmenting? Now, rank them according to RFM (recency, frequency, monetary). Quite simply, an RFM score will help you find the “best candidates’ in your file! The higher the RFM score, the more likely your donor is to respond to you. The highest-ranked donors are your top group! Communicate with them like you would a Major Gifts donor.
5. Don’t drown in data! The sometimes overwhelming numbers of a mid-level program often make it difficult to manage and problematic to navigate. Keep your donor pool at a manageable number. A good start is 400 – 1,000 mid-level donors per mid-level gift officer, with a top file consisting of 10% of your total mid-level group.
6. Track your actions! Create a system for tracking actions and notes within your database, and use contact reports to share with team members before and after each donor contact. Any information you can gather before reaching out to a donor will help tailor your communication, and any post-contact reports will provide valuable insight to your team members (and you) to improve future communication.
7. And last but not the least, develop and track your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to define success. A mid-level program can serve to increase revenue and/ or build a planned giving pipeline. But most importantly, it can help increase a donor’s affinity to your organization. A revenue goal is important, but shouldn’t define your program. Make sure to track other KPIs to determine what success for your organization looks like – e.g., number of donor contacts made, gift in kind donations, events/ webinars attended, etc. Every touch point brings your donor closer to falling in love with you!
Once you’ve got this part squared away, you can work on meaningful deliverables to your mid-level donors: personalized appeals, impact reporting and of course timely and meaningful stewardship! I recommend Penelope Burke’s 20-point list on how to write a better thank-you letter as a great starting point.