13-step process to building and strengthening your mid-level giving program - Part Two

publication date: Jun 16, 2015
author/source: Maeve Strathy

Maeve StrathyIf you knew there was a pot of money available for your organization that you weren’t getting your hands on, wouldn’t you do everything you could to get your hands on it?

That’s the potential of a strong mid-level giving program. There is a gap between your annual donors and your major gift donors that you need to fill. Your fundraising program simply is not sustainable if you ignore your mid-level donors and don’t ensure there’s a captive pool of people with major gift potential.

This is the second of three blog posts telling you all about how to build and strengthen your mid-level giving program. In Part One, you learned all about how to identify mid-level donors and prepare to meet them.

Now it’s meeting time! Play your cards right and you just might help your donor to make a big impact with your organization.

4.     Cultivate the relationship.

My experience with mid-level giving has been that meetings with donors usually go through the entire donor cycle in one sitting. The identification phase is already done, so start the meeting by building the relationship with the donor. Ask them about themselves; what do they do? How do they spend their spare time? Where did they grow up? How did they get involved in your organization? Why have they grown to care so much about the work your organization does?

5.     Reference their past support.

And that’ll segue well into referencing their past support. I often tell donors that my main job is to acknowledge and thank them for their support of the organization. I say that in-person contact is too often reserved for $1 million gifts and that I want to make sure our generous, loyal annual donors get the recognition they deserve. I tell them what their past gifts have enabled the organization to do. And I thank them. I say thank you and I pause, looking into their eyes. They feel it.

6.     Ask pointed questions.

Then I go on to ask more questions about their philanthropy. Some fellow fundraisers have encouraged me to ask questions like: “What inspires your philanthropy?” I find even from the most matter-of-fact people that I get profound answers to that question. The point is, try to unearth what inspires and motivates the donor. That will help you with what’s next. 

7.     Share your call package. 

I love a good call package. When I meet with donors, I like to bring a folder full of goodies: some kind of organization-branded trinket (not a throwaway gadget; something meaningful), a one-pager with stats on the organization and information about fundraising priorities, and anything else worth sharing. I like bringing something because you leave them with something to remind them of your wonderful meeting, you have something to reference after the fact, and you have something to point to right then and there. I’ll often open the folder, take out the one-pager, and start pointing out the important fundraising priorities we’re focusing on.
8.     Tell them about something exciting.

And then I’ll tell them the most exciting project they can help us with. This will change from donor to donor; it may be the area they’ve designated to in the past and you can tell them how they’ve made an impact and that it’s still a priority. It may be a new priority area that relates to what they’ve been interested in the past that you can share with them. Whatever it is, make sure it aligns with their values and interests (based on their past giving history and your conversation) and make it exciting.

9.     Ask them to support it.

Then make the ask. Right then and there. Of course we always need to use our best judgement in any donor meeting and we shouldn’t ask if the time isn’t right, but I’d say 75% of the time I ask on the first visit. That’s the thing about mid-level donors: they’re ready.

Have I got you interested in a mid-level giving program? You’ve made the ask to a donor with giving history and affinity. Will they say YES?

If so, what are you going to do? What’s the appropriate follow-up for a mid-level donor?

Tune in to Part Three to find out how to build and strengthen your mid-level giving program after your meeting with the donor.

In the meantime, think about the “something exciting” you can tell mid-level donors about that will make them feel invested in the work they can enable your organization to do?

What are your favourite pointed questions to ask donors that tease out of them what inspires them about your organization? Share in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

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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