One of the benefits of working at a company that serves a diverse pool of not-for-profit organisations around North America is that we at Wisely get a bird’s eye view of the sector as a whole.
We’ve spoken consistently with nearly all our clients since the coronavirus took hold and we’ve surveyed them as well. We’ve seen that while many have pivoted to fundraising for COVID-19 related initiatives — and are having significant success — others are hesitant to make asks during the crisis, especially if they are not as able to relate their appeal to the urgency of the crisis.
Those that are experiencing success at the moment are doing so largely through direct appeals, especially online giving and direct mail, and much less so with individual giving, especially major gifts. Major gift donors are more likely than smaller gift donors to pull back from giving during a recession, as their giving is often dependent on their stock portfolio, which has seen a significant decrease. Our team at Wisely has been recommending to many of our clients that a great way to increase revenue right now is to focus on mid-level giving.
Why Mid-level Giving?
Mid-level giving, often called leadership giving, has a special place in fundraising because it is markedly different from both annual giving and major gifts. Mid-level giving should require that donor prospects are added to the portfolio of a gift officer so that they can craft a specific cultivation strategy. The fundraiser will need to have discussions with the donor about their hopes, affinity to your organisation and reasons for giving. This act of high touch engagement, especially listening, will make it likelier that a previously annual-level donor would now give a higher amount.
On the other hand, mid-level gifts require less sophisticated strategies to get to a successful solicitation than a major gift. They tend to be more transactional: there’s rarely a need for a proposal, for negotiating an impact strategy or stewardship details that often require a gift agreement or other legal documentation, and the donor (when they have been properly stewarded for past gifts) will in many cases simply reply to a personal email or phone call with an online gift or cheque in the mail.
And therein lies the beauty of the mid-level gift: high-quality engagement, but less time required for a gift that is likely multiples higher than a standard direct mail or annual gift. The best part: amongst these donors are those most likely to become major gift donors. Focusing on mid-level giving is the key way to build your donor pipeline and cultivate your soon-to-be largest supporters.
As time is of the essence during COVID-19, because the number of people you serve has increased and are more at-risk, or your revenue may be down significantly while expenses remain the same, focusing on your mid-level donors, and prospective mid-level donors, is a quick solution. Again, major gift donors retreat more than donors at the mid-level during difficult financial times, but your fundraisers can close mid-level gifts faster and at higher amounts than through mass appeals.
How to Accelerate Mid-level Giving
- Find a matching gift donor(s) to drive conversations with prospective donors – start by asking your board members to consider giving and to recommend other donors
- Have your events staff, perhaps less busy than usual, manage a mid-level giving portfolio
- Have those same team members ask would-be event attendees to make a gift in lieu of event sponsorship or event participation
- “White Glove” stewardship – immediate phone calls to all donors upon receipt of gifts by the soliciting fundraiser; handwritten thank you card from the fundraiser, relevant organisational lead and other relevant team members within a week; another phone call by organisational lead recalling that donors’ impact to date
- Use Wisely!
How Wisely is Helping Clients with Mid-level Giving
With fundraising revenue down for most organisations, we at Wisely believe the best approach to retaining revenue is to focus on donors you can be sure will support you right now.
Wisely connects to your fundraising CRM data and accurately predicts when and how much your donors will give, so your team can focus on building relationships and making asks with the right donors right now. Wisely is automated, real-time data analytics and prospecting that can be accessed from home or anywhere.
Here’s how Wisely makes mid-level giving a snap:
- Wisely does the complicated math and prioritising, you engage your donors
- Wisely’s power of prediction: get an accurate target date and amount
- With just a couple minutes and a few clicks in Wisely, you’ll have a list of donors you can target to add to a fundraisers’ portfolio
- Use the Wisely filters to narrow that list down to strictly donors that will give imminently
- And at the mid-level
- Including amounts higher than what those donors may given in the past
- If you already have an opportunity open for a donor, Wisely will tell you if your expected ask amount is too low, encouraging you to increase your ask to our recommended giving level
- Fundraisers can now reach out to donors in their portfolio with confidence, knowing that they are ready to give and at what level
- We’re also helping clients cultivate now donors we predict will give once the worst of this crisis recedes – donors that will give at higher levels in 3-6 months from now
Fundraising is more difficult than ever right now, and more than ever, the people we serve need us. Therein lies the opportunity to bridge the gap between donors and people in need: mid-level giving. It’s the most efficient way to raise money quickly while remaining donor-centric and strengthening relationships for the future. Give our recommendations a try and let me know how it goes!
Whether you’re a Wisely client or new to us, we’re here to help! Email me any time.
Ryan Lindsay has spent 18 years leading not-for-profit fundraising & marketing teams & boards in the health, education & political sectors. He is currently the Account Executive at Wisely.