Attending Bridge Conference last week in Washington was fantastic. I connected with fundraisers across the continent who are all eager to learn as much as they can to make a bigger impact for their organizations. At the Blue North booth, I represented the relational giving side of our business. It was interesting to hear from various organizations about their struggles and successes — and to field questions, particularly about Mid-Level giving. I've answered three frequently asked questions here.
Although Blue North has been helping organizations build these programs for 13 years, the state of Mid-Level giving feels like the state of donor relations 10 years ago. Everyone knows it is necessary and wants to do it well, but many organizations, (even larger ones) are just getting started.
We've all seen the industry-wide fundraising trends — non-profits are facing a state of donor decline. Fewer donors means that we need to ensure every donor is treated very carefully and intentionally, to maximize their passion for the work that we do, and provide them with every opportunity to give as much as they are willing.
Mid-Level Donors represent a hidden stream of funds for most organizations. They are donors that you have already done the legwork to acquire, and they have untapped potential that is waiting there for you to discover in your file.
Many fundraisers throughout the conference were asking who these donors are. This is a great question — and correctly identifying these donors can make or break your Mid-Level program. These donors will vary from organization to organization (depending on factors that lie within your data and giving patterns). Generally, these donors give between $1,000 and $9,999.
To identify your Mid-Level Donors, we start by looking at your overall file, and seeing where they live in relation to the Mass and Major files. We look at giving velocity, recency, and gift size, and weigh one-time gifts higher than cumulative giving totals — although both are important. One-time gifts are particularly interesting in the overall consideration as they can help determine an increased capacity to give. Organizations may consider lowering their one-time gift floor to accommodate a new classification of Mid-Level Donors.
Wealth indicators can also help to identify Mid-Level Donors. These are valuable, but don't tell the full story. Just because someone has the financial capacity to give a larger gift, doesn't mean they will. What must be determined is the donor's level of affinity to the organization's cause. If both capacity and affinity are higher than donors in the Mass file, the donor should be treated as Mid-Level, and be given a more relational treatment method.
Let’s make this simple:
higher capacity + higher affinity = relational treatment
You've identified and qualified the Mid-Level Donors in your file, and realized the size of your opportunity through data analysis and financial projections. Now, it is time to implement our Mid-Level treatment plan.
The next major question I've received at the conference is how to staff your organization appropriately to give these donors the relational treatment they require. Few organizations can afford to treat their Mid-Level Donors with the same level of attention that their Major Donors receive, and that isn't necessary or advisable. But we do need to add some extra relational treatment to this important group of donors.
Occasionally, restructuring roles or hiring new Representatives/Development Officers is required to make the most of your Mid-Level file. There is an additional investment here, but correctly calculating the size of your opportunity will help to ensure that your Income to Cost ratio stays high. Generally, we expect that Mid-Level Giving officers will have file sizes from between 800–1,200 donors per officer.
Mid-Level officers must have a special skill set that differs a little from Major Donor officers. In addition to being relationship wizards, they must also be nimble, flexible, focused, and disciplined. There is a lot to do in a day for a Mid-Level officer, and efficiency and focus are essential.
Let's break that down into another takeaway:
relationships + discipline = successful mid-level donor program
Looking for more takeaways and information on implementing a Mid-Level program? Get in touch with Robyn today to learn how we can help.
Blue North has worked with over 45 organizations in 4 continents to build, expand, or improve their Middle Donor programs. We have built a best-practice model and approach based on the aggregated results from all of these clients.
We are passionate about the potential of the Middle Donor space. We train, coach, and consult with leaders on the topic, and have developed a global platform for building, managing, and monitoring Middle Donor programs.