Bridge the Giving Gap
Message depth and approach
While increasing your investment in direct-mail production — through nicer stocks, closed-face envelopes and postage — can help improve mid-level efforts, distinct package treatments should be considered as well. This means integrating the best of the “personalized” world of major gifts with the improved production technology available in direct response. Live handwriting, oversized and highly personalized carriers, and specialized treatments such as paper-clipped business cards and personalized folders can have enormous impact with these valuable donors. Even more important than the look of the package is the appropriate message. Donors who are ready to make this more substantial financial commitment to an organization need deeper and more substantial messaging about your work and the impact of their gifts.
Kathy Swayze, president of Impact Communications, who works with many organizations seeking to provide more compelling messages, refers to this as moving individuals in mid-level programs “from donors to investors” by telling more in-depth stories, providing mission-related content and writing to them at a higher educational level. These longer letters provide more in-depth descriptions of programs and, with the rest of the package, can be used to build a solid case for giving. For mid-level donors, direct-response techniques are combined with the depth of messaging found in the in-depth proposals used by major-gift officers.
In addition, appropriate messaging also means taking a look at the proper balance of cultivation and solicitation that mid-level donors receive. Balanced cultivation is more than simply sending an acknowledgment after a gift. Donors at this level should receive targeted cultivation mailings — with a very soft ask or no ask — in order to continue to deepen their commitment and explain their vital role in the organization’s work. Cultivation pieces can include invitations to events, progress reports on program areas of interest to mid-level donors or announcements about an award your organization has received.