With the dog days of summer around the corner, the office is a little quiet and the inbox doesn’t fill up quite as quickly. It’s a great time to step back and tackle some bigger issues that are usually on the back burner. Here’s our summer checklist for leadership giving.
Once you start thinking about the middle of your pyramid, one of the first things that will probably jump off the page to you is how you communicate with mid-level donors. Something seems off there. While the range of annual fund gifts is obviously vast, mid-level donors typically move the needle far more than your average annual fund participant.
So why are we talking to them the same way?
We like an old saying: If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it deserves content that’s created specifically for a mid-level donor. (Maybe we should make a poster?)
When you sit down to think about your content (which you’re hopefully doing already), stop bucketing leadership prospects in with other groups. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to add a whole new stream of content creation to your to-do list. A lot of times you can make some slight tweaks to content you’re already planning to create so that it caters specifically to this group. Perhaps you present it through a different medium or alter the messaging slightly so that it’s more tailored for their circumstance.
Here are some other things to keep in mind.
Unique Category, Unique Content
Content is a critical way to build support, affinity and relationships amongst all your prospect groups. But different populations require different messaging and have different interests. A donor who regularly gives you $5,000 occupies a completely different mindset than someone who happily sends $10 to you each and every giving day. So why are they getting the same mass email?
That’s something thing to be careful of. A mid-level donor who responds to those mass marketing emails with $5,000 donations can quickly lull you to sleep. If you get complacent and assume that you can count on that gift without any extra effort, anything could happen. They might go quiet because you’re not paying them enough attention. Or you might leave an untold amount of dollars on the table by not building that relationship and pursuing larger amounts.
Think of What Will Resonate
You can make some educated guesses or dive deep into the data. We advise a little of both. But the important thing is that you sit down and take some time to think critically about what these prospects and donors are actually interested in.
Is that annual fund email about getting naming rights for a brick on your new walkway for $25 going to resonate with a mid-level donor? Probably not. They might be able to pay for the whole walkway on their own at their current level of giving. You might not often come up with giving occasions that are geared specifically towards gifts in the $10,000 to $50,000 range. But it might be time to start. Gifts of that size can make a sizeable impact.
Dig into any data you have access to. See what donors at this level are reading about or engaging with on social media. Find out what emails they click on or don’t. Look at what areas they typically give to when they do make gifts. Call a few up and talk about their history to see what motivates them. Get your hands on any and all data that you can, then start narrowing down a few areas to develop for mid-level donors and prospects.
A Great Opportunity to Experiment
That’s the best part about this group. Most institutions haven’t traditionally addressed them in any specific or meaningful away. Maybe a one off here or there when the time called for it. Which means it’s a great area for experimentation.
Unlike the annual fund or major gifts, there’s no playbook for this group. They straddle the line (sort of) between those two well-established strategies without fully conforming to either. Take this opportunity to have some fun!
Once you start to understand what motivates this group, think about how you can create and package that content for them. Since this group hasn’t been a focus for you before, take risks, try things out and learn from your mistakes. You might be surprised to find that some of your tactics end up translating well as a new strategy to try for the annual fund or major gifts.
Check in later this week for the final installment of our leadership giving checklist.