Case Study of a Mid-level Donor Program
The mid-level program at Catholic Relief Services, a large, international-relief organization, was several years old, yet not strategically directed — nor was it meeting projected goals. In working with the organization, at MINDset Direct we recognized the need to re-engineer the existing mid-level donor program and began working to develop high-value donor strategies appropriate for the program.
What we uncovered were four major areas of opportunity within the program that needed to be addressed: appropriate audience selection; a balancing of the mixture of solicitation and cultivation efforts, including the creation of efforts targeted specifically for the mid-level audiences; the standardization of donor migration; and appropriate staffing.
1. Audience selection: Through in-depth analysis of the donor file, we found that the audience selection was misdirected and included a great number of episodic donors while leaving out many high-value donors without large single gifts.
Our analysis identified five “opportunity audiences” that were blended to create a new, better-targeted population of mid-level donors. We worked with the organization to develop an annual strategy for these donors — a thoughtful balance of cultivation and solicitation efforts, administered through a mixture of direct channels and individual development associates in the field, each of whom managed a portfolio of mid-level donors.
Donors in the mid-level program were “frozen” for one year — forced into all mid-level efforts — allowing us to accurately measure how the mid-level strategy impacted their value to the organization. After that one-year period, we found that four of the five original audience groups merited continued inclusion within the mid-level program. The fifth audience group would migrate down to a lower track with less of an investment.
2. Communications strategy: We worked with the organization to create a thoughtful mixture of solicitation and cultivation communications for the mid-level audience throughout the year. At times, this simply involved making minor tweaks to existing packages — increasing production values or deepening messaging. However, the mid-level donors also received a variety of communications created specifically for them, including cultivation packages with no asks as well as Stakeholder Briefing campaigns in which mid-level donors were invited to participate in conference calls with high-level staff to learn more about the work of the organization. Calls were followed up with solicitations.