Do you have a middle donor program?
In my experience, many organizations have one — think of the ubiquitous “President’s Circle” — but don’t do much with it. Others spend most of their time on direct mail and events, and haven’t realized they’re missing out on a really important part of their development program.
Who are middle donors?
They are those who are generally giving between $500 and $10,000 a year (depending on how your organization wants to define the group). They need more attention than your smaller level donors, but not the same care and feeding you give your major donors.
They’re actually like the yummy filling of an Oreo cookie — they connect your direct response contributors and your major donors. They hold the whole thing together.
Why should create or invest time in such a program? There are a few reasons.
- This group of donors can provide a reliable source of unrestricted revenue. In analyzing data for a recent client, we found that the top 2 percent of their donors were giving 54% of their annual giving revenue. Just imagine h0w much more they could be raising by recruiting more donors at that level.
- Many of these individuals are your next major gift prospects. Adding more donors means you’re filling your pipeline. With the higher touch stewardship you will need to do with the group, you’ll draw in these donors more closely.
- Middle donor programs are a great way to engage board members who are reluctant to ask for money. One of the most effective ways to growing this group of donors is through small house party events. Asking board members to open their homes and filling them with qualified prospects makes fundraising less daunting. They don’t even have to make the ask! Leave that to the executive director or board chair.
There are many nuances involved in creating this type of program. But in my experience, there are two key factors that lead to success:
- Monthly giving: You undoubtedly have donors at lower gift amounts that love your organization and would give more if they could. Offering a monthly giving option helps people increase their support. That’s why I like starting these programs at $1,200. That’s just $100 per month. There are organizations that I personally want to support, but it’s not easy for me to write a $1,200 check. But let me put on my credit card? Sure! (Here’s another tip: put the $100 in perspective. How many people spend that much a month at Starbucks?)
- Attitude: To continue the cookie metaphor, your organization must develop a Cookie Monster attitude. Cookie Monster is laser focused on getting more cookies. So too must your organization. Assign a staff member to this area of work. Set ambitious but attainable goals for dollars and the number of donors. Have the board own a piece of that goal. Keep this program top of mind at every meeting.
To learn more about how we can help you design, brand, and launch a middle donor program, send me at note at email@example.com or visit our website.