Kudos to Alia McKee and Mark Rovner at Sea Change Strategies for their recent report, The Missing Middle.
I couldn’t agree more with their conclusion that, “Despite the fact that fundraisers universally agree that mid-level donors are exceptionally valuable, they also agree that most organizations lack the discipline and investment necessary to make the most of this immense opportunity.”
The Missing Middle goes on to outline eight building blocks of effective mid-level donor programs, all excellent ideas worth pursuing. As a story gal, I want to particularly call out section #5: Getting the Content Right.
Like major donors, contributors at this level feel a strong connection to your work, so you need to approach them with real information on the impact of their donations. The Missing Middle gets this part right when it says your mid-level content needs to include “Deep Substance”.
The mid-level fundraisers interviewed for the report also noted the importance of stewardship. At Impact, we’ve found that additional stewardship pieces are one of the best ways to give your mid-level donors more substance. In fact, additional stewardship layered on top of the existing solicitations is often the winning formula for growing mid-level revenue.
This outstanding report also correctly points out that mid-level donors need a personal point of contact—and I would add that mid-level programs need dedicated staffing. In far too many organizations, the responsibility for growing this part of the file is layered on top of another job, and it just doesn’t work. It’s important to note that these donors are asking for a bigger relationship with your organization and you can’t cultivate them unless you have staff with the time to call them, write them personal notes and respond to their emails.
Finally, McKee and Rovner issue a challenge to find another descriptor for these middle donors. Allow me to throw into the mix two phrases we use with our clients: emerging major donors and leadership donors. Both sound a lot more important than middle donors.
Thanks Alia and Mark for focusing a spotlight on these very special donors, no matter what we call them. You can read the full report here: The Missing Middle