13-step process to build and strengthen your mid-level giving program - Part one

publication date: Jun 2, 2015
author/source: Maeve Strathy

Maeve StrathyHow often does someone approach you out of nowhere and offer your organization $1 million?

I’m guessing not that often. One hundred years from now, when looking at our donor databases and identifying major gift donors of the past, the people of the future will likely see obvious clues in the giving history of the donors that led to that major gift.

Maybe it’s a consecutive donor who isn’t giving huge donations, but they give year after year after year. Maybe it’s someone whose first gift was $500 to your organization. That’s quite the investment with a first gift, maybe we should meet them! 

That’s what a mid-level giving program is all about: dedicating attention to those donors showing great potential in your annual giving program. There’s money on the table for you, and if you give your generous annual donors some #DonorLove, you might just enable them to do some more good for your organization.

This is the first of three articles telling you all about how to build and strengthen your mid-level giving program.

First thing’s first, you need to identify the donor and prepare for your first meeting with them.

Before you meet the donor

  1. Find someone who’s already giving.
    You can do all sorts of research to find someone capable of mid-level giving, but my analysis shows that your chances are higher with one of your existing donors. If your typical annual gift is $250, find someone giving $500. Or find someone who’s given $100 every year for the past 10 years. They’re dying to meet you!

  2. Book a meeting.
    I like contacting donors for the first time via email if I can; I communicate best in writing and I like for the donor to be able to process the information at their convenience. But initiate contact with your donor in whatever way is your preference. I like to preface the email by acknowledging the way they’ve impacted the organization in the past, say that I want to thank them in person, get to know them, and discuss their future giving. I propose a few dates, cross my fingers, and click “send”.

  3. Prepare for the meeting.
    Once the meeting is booked (yay!), prepare like any fundraiser would. I don’t go too in-depth with my meeting prep, and I rarely engage our prospect researchers when I do. I find out who I’m meeting, what we already know about them, what I can find about them elsewhere (Google, LinkedIn), their giving history - especially designations, and any other affinities I can find. I also prepare a meeting memo for myself - what is the purpose of this meeting? What are my talking points? I keep it simple; mid-level gifts involve a mid-level budget, so don’t pull your hair out over preparing.

What should you do in the meeting? What kind of pointed questions should you ask to tease out what motivates the donor philanthropically?

In to part two of this series we will talk about out how to build and strengthen your mid-level giving program once you sit down with your mid-level donor.

In the meantime, start looking for those people in your donor pool who show mid-level potential and build a list so that by the time you find out what to do in - and after - the meeting, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.

How do you prepare for meetings with annual donors who show potential to give more? Share your tips and tricks in the comments.

Maeve Strathy is a fundraiser. Full-stop. Right now she is focused on mid-level giving, and in the past she has worked in roles concentrated on young alumni giving and telefundraising. Maeve is passionate about enabling people to make a positive difference with their philanthropy. She's so passionate about it that she spends her spare time thinking about it, talking about it, and writing about it on her blog: www.whatgivesphilanthropy.com. Follow Maeve on Twitter @fundraisermaeve.


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