Mid-Level Isn’t Direct Mail – It’s Major Gifts in the Mail!

IMG_0367As our good friend Chris Brooks at No Kid Hungry says, “Mid-level donors are very annoying.” After all, they aren’t giving enough for the personal touch of a gift officer, but they are giving too much to be treated just like your direct mail donors.

I couldn’t agree more. But that’s why running an effective mid-level program requires that we STOP thinking like direct mail managers. It seems like a few times every month, a fundraiser tells me they can’t afford to spend a little extra money to make their mailings to their $1,000+ donors a little nicer and more personalized.

My staff can attest that this makes me jump up and down, scream and sometimes pout. Some fundraisers are so stuck in their “cost per piece” approach to budgeting mailings, that they fail to achieve the high-touch mailings that are appropriate for these donors.

So when you’re planning your next mailing for midlevel donors, don’t just look at the cost per package—instead, look at the TOTAL cost for that segment. After all, your midlevel donors are a much smaller group so $2.00 more per piece does not add up to a huge amount.

Think about it this way. How much would it cost you to send a gift officer to meet that donor? In that context, spending $5 or even $10 a package for your mailing begins to make a whole lot of sense. Especially since these are your best donors and provide a high return on investment.

And, finally, remember that it’s not just about fancy packages and first class stamps. Success with mid-level donors requires better strategy and a different kind of conversation that brings them closer to the organization.

Your midlevel donors are generous, devoted, and may be your future major donors. You need to show them how you’re using their donations and report back to them on how THEY are advancing the mission. They need extra details—and extra gratitude.

In the era of declining file sizes, getting more from the donors you have is critical. So don’t shortchange the middle of your file – it’s a goldmine!

For inspiration, take a look at how we helped the American Association of University Women create an exceptional campaign case statement for major donors, and then turn it into a successful proposal package for their midlevel donors.

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