Two Keys to a Solid, Mid-Level Donor Program
While developing a mid-level donor program is a different experience for every organization, there are some common issues all will face.
The session “Mid-Level Program: The Who, Why, When and How” at the DMA Nonprofit Federation 2007 Annual Washington Nonprofit Conference featured speakers from three nonprofit organizations with success launching mid-level donor programs from existing direct marketing programs. The speakers — Jim Kaltenbach, group VP of customer relationship marketing at the Arthritis Foundation, Joan H. Smyth Dengler, vice president of direct response for Covenant House, and Robert Beatty, director of direct marketing for the Alzheimer’s Association — shared case studies, best practices and lessons learned from their experiences in getting a mid-level program up and running.
In her portion of the presentation, Dengler described the steps she went through at Covenant House to create the mid-level program, recommended some tips to other organizations based on her experience.
First, she said, an organization should define who it considers a middle donor. While the giving level necessary to be classified as a mid-level donor will vary from agency to agency, Dengler said one common characteristic should be that a donor has clear loyalty to an organization.
The two key factors to a successful mid-level program stressed by Dengler are:
1. Content. Offer and copy should be solid and focus on an organization’s specific need. Some examples of specific needs are if an organization moves to — or needs to build — a new location, when new services are being offered, if the number of clients it serves increases, if it loses a grant or if it’s affected by a change in government policy.
2. Context. Devise fancy direct mail to reach mid-level donors. Ideas Dengler recommended include: using multiple or commemorative stamps; adding a personal touch like handwriting or paper clips; using odd-sized envelopes; mailing folders, portfolios, videos or photographs; including testamonials from clients; and including bounceback notes that donors can mail in to clients.
And lastly, she stressed that organizations remember to integrate media channels to maximize returns. This means phone, e-mail, Web site landing pages, visit or tour programs and any other channels relating that tie in to the specific need an organization is focusing on.