Mid-level giving is truly the transition between annual giving and major gifts – it is the point where donors identify themselves as having both the capacity and the propensity to do more for your organization. A well-run mid-level giving program is a great way to substantially upgrade current donors and create a prospect pool for major gifts.
But in order to create a mid-level giving program that’s effective, your organization needs to put some time into planning the program. Key questions you should resolve before creating a mid-level giving program include:
- Is this a recognition society or a giving society? This is an important distinction. A recognition society is a club where donors receive acknowledgement for reaching a certain dollar threshold. A giving society is a club where donors are asked to upgrade to join the exclusive group and are then asked to annually renew their support to the club.
- What is the qualifying dollar amount? Deciding what the giving levels will be is dependent on your donor pool. For some organizations, mid-level giving can be as high as $5,000; for others, it starts around $100. Looking at your own donor pool and analyzing where donors naturally fall will allow you to pinpoint where the opportunities exist within your own file.
- Is the dollar threshold based on cumulative amounts or single gifts? In our experience, single, annual gifts are much better indicators of capacity to upgrade. In addition, you should consider what types of gifts you will accept – this is especially important if you receive a lot of company matches; you’ll need to decide if adding a company match qualifies a donor for your society.
- What should you call your giving club? Creating an identity – a name, a logo (even if it’s just a typeface) – helps you market the club and gives donors a sense of belonging to something special.
- What benefits and recognition will you offer with this society? Mid-level giving helps move donors along the continuum of giving – from joining an organization for value or based on emotion to transitioning to philanthropy and investment. Mid-level giving is right in the middle, where people upgrade to learn more about what their gifts will do for an organization. It is based on exclusivity and experiences. Benefits and recognition should be built around this concept.
Once you answer these questions, you can begin to market the giving society and ask donors to upgrade or renew their commitment. The solicitation process should be part of a larger campaign and involve many different tactics. Just as mid-level giving is the bridge between annual and major gifts, the solicitation process should be a bridge between direct marketing techniques and more personal solicitation.
To that end, a mid-level giving program should incorporate direct mail (often a series of invitations and follow-ups) along with email, personal phone calls and, for higher-dollar donors and prospects, personal visits.
And, once you’ve solicited your donors to join your new mid-level giving program, don’t forget to keep them on your mailing list and informed of everything you are doing! While they don’t need to receive every direct mail appeal, you still must be regularly communicating with them – or you won’t receive their mid-level gift next year!