Bridge the Giving Gap
In most mid-size to large nonprofit organizations, there are two distinct areas from which revenue is generated from individual donors. The names vary: Membership hands off to development; direct marketing supports major gifts; marketing feeds donors to advancement.
In each situation, one group is dedicated to generating broad-based support via a bevy of direct-response techniques. Another very separate group raises large or major gifts utilizing relationship-based techniques. The impact of this structure is, in most cases, a siloed system that doesn’t make it easy for staff to transition donors — and a jarring experience for the donors themselves.
Professional fundraisers on either side of the divide spend their time developing techniques and processes to increase the value of fundraising efforts — independent of what the other group is doing. Too often there is little or no collaboration between the two. And this is unfortunate because the ideal donor-lifecycle model would have these two groups working together to move donors up the giving ladder from first gift to ultimate gift in a strategic and systematic, yet personalized, way.
Increased competition and changing expectations from donors require fundraisers to work harder at creating a deeper, more cohesive relationship for donors, particularly those who have raised their hands to indicate a great capacity or propensity to support our causes. Mid-level programs are an important element in a smooth donor transition from smaller gifts to larger commitment. Mid-level giving allows us to bring the best of both worlds to bear in crafting strategies for this emerging donor group. Mid-level donors are those donors who bridge the gap between the often divergent worlds of direct response and major gifts. These donors are ready to make a deeper commitment to their cause and need to move beyond traditional direct-response vehicles as a mechanism for support. However, they are not quite ready for — nor do they yet require — the intense, one-on-one relationship and staff resources that major-gifts cultivation offers.