We are very excited to announce that we have decided to launch a new cable TV service. To keep our offering simple, we are going to market with two different levels of service:
- Our ‘Standard’ product will offer a selection of 150 channels for $79.99 per month.
- For our best customers, we will also offer a ‘Premium’ product which will offer 40 channels for a special price of $129.00 per month.
While this seems ridiculous, it is in fact what a large number of organizations are doing with their Mid-Level giving programs. These programs are expensive because they offer more customized, higher-end communications pieces and the significant additional cost of relationship representatives. And that is acceptable if you are reaping the rewards of increased giving, at an acceptable income-to-cost ratio.
However, we’ve seen some organizations actually experience a loss with a new Mid-Level giving program. Sometimes they see a false growth pattern, as the best Mass donors are being constantly fed into the program, even though their giving may actually decline. The volume creates a false sense of growth. Yikes.
How and WHY is this happening?
Are Mid-Level programs ill-conceived and problematic? No. We believe that for many organizations they offer one of the biggest ‘quick-win’ opportunities for growth. But they need to be executed carefully and properly.
This means watching out for two common and significant errors:
- Error #1: When donors enter the Mid-Level file, you stop sending them all the Mass Direct Marketing material, because that will just get in the way.
A lot of organizations believe this. But BE CAREFUL. You will inevitably find that upper Mass and Mid-Level donors are your most generous DM supporters. They often love it, and feel disappointed when they are cut off. If you stop the opportunity for them to respond to Mass appeals, you will be putting yourself in a revenue deficit, and will need to make up revenue just to break even.
It is important to review their experience — maybe cull some low-response items from the Mass calendar to make room for the Mid-Level treatment, but don’t cut them off.
- Error #2: Mid-Level development officers should focus on stewardship and donor experience first. Mid-Level development officers are relationship people.
Mid-Level development officers need to spend time building trust and understanding their donors, and providing stewardship and engagement opportunities to donors. We know this is true — however, they will be most successful if they follow a disciplined program to connect with as many donors as possible, and make sure that asking donors to get involved in a more significant way is a core part of their focus. They will not be successful if all they do is ask, and they will not be successful if they don’t ask.
Are we really launching a cable TV service?
Nah, I changed my mind — but if you are running a Mid-Level program, don’t make the same mistake we almost made in launching our exciting new service...