Who Are My Mid-Level Donors
and How Can You Cultivate Them?
Optimize Your Direct Mail

Today’s guest blog post is written by Sally Boucher from our partner WealthEngine, a wealth intelligence platform that uses data science to provide meaningful, accurate and insightful information you can immediately use to focus and improve fundraising for your organization.

Sea Change Strategies conducted research and published their findings in a March 2014 report that indicates a high potential for mid-level donors. Their survey and interviews with pioneering mid-level donor programs of all kinds, “mid-level” donors at the $1k-$10k levels represent 1% of total donors, however, they give up to one-third of all revenues.

But who, exactly, are these mid-level donors?

They are the supporters in your database of donors and prospects who have the ability to give $1,000 or more annually, who care about your mission and have the propensity to give. Cultivating this group of donors is a year-round process and here’s our recommendations to give a boost to your direct mail year-end appeal.

Check out the eight tips below to craft a very personalized direct mail appeal:

  1. Design a package that is noticeably different from your typical appeal. The standard appeal arrives in a #10 (4.125″ x 9.5“) envelope, so choose a 7 ½” x 10 ½”, a 9″ x 12″ or a 9″ x 6″ envelope for it to stand out in the mail. Use closed faced, high quality envelopes for the best impact and mail using a first class stamp. Handwriting the address will make the biggest impact, but make sure your return address with logo is also included.
  2. Elevate your regular appeal so that it will resonate with your target group. Your standard appeal tells a compelling story and expresses your gratitude and appreciation. This high-end appeal will motivate specific donors to give at levels over $1K. Another way to motivate higher gift levels is by creating a $1K giving club like a President’s Circle, a Sustainer’s Society, or the 1874 Club. This is a great choice because clubs like this not only inspire a sense of belonging but encourage repeat giving. Another approach is to refer to a smaller goal within the larger campaign goal. For example: “We need 25 donors to give $1,000 each to meet our goal and time is running out.”
  3. Edit your letter to address the recipient by name throughout and maintaining a conversational tone. Reference their last gift, if any, and tell them how it was used. Once it’s printed on quality stock, review it and consider including a personal note in the margins. Reference any personal information you can, like the college their child is attending (“Go Hokies!”) or last spring’s concert in the park (“So fun to have seen you at the Swing Fest”). Finish it by hand signing your name and providing your a direct line, personal or mobile, so they can contact you at their convenience.
  4. Leverage relationships within your organization. If there is a staff member who has close relationships with certain donors, encourage them to add personal notes to the letters, strengthening the existing relationships.
  5. Ask for the amount you want and don’t provide lower options. If you are asking for $1,000 to become a member of the 1874 Club, ask for $1,000, $2,500 and give them the opportunity to set their own amount. Also, this is a good time to remind them about the benefits of membership. For example, an invitation to the spring gala, gift shop discounts, a tour of the headquarters, lunch with the Executive Director, or other more tangible incentives. If you don’t have a giving club, try asking for $250, $500, $1,000, still providing the option for them to fill in the blank.
  6. Personalize your reply form and response device. Just as important as personalizing your letter, your response device should also be personalized. Always print the name and address of the recipient on the form, and consider a personalized heading such as “Special Reply Form for Mr. John Doe.” Make sure to print their name and address on it somewhere. Using the same gift array you used in step 3, just keep it simple. While you’ll use barcoding for the broad appeal, these donors, in particular, should get a personalized response.
  7. Always personalize the reply envelope. Just like in step 1, don’t use a regular Business Reply Envelope (BRE). Instead select a #9 or #10 closed face envelope and handwrite your address on it. Make sure to include first-class postage stamp.
  8. Include a personalized insert when appropriate. If there is a photograph that conveys your story or is complementary, reproduce it in mailer-friendly size and include it with your package. If a photograph won’t work, a quality brochure or testimonial is also a good option. Write on the back or in the margin about why you are including it. For example: “This picture made me think of you.” or “Your support has meant so much, I wanted you to hear what our service recipients are saying.”

Your supporters get lots of mail everyday, even as more communication moves to digital. That’s why it’s so important to underscore that you are reaching out them directly, as individuals instead of making them feel like they’re part of a mass mailing. These personal touches we recommend can make the difference in the gift received.

To find out more about who your most valuable donors are and their gift capacity so that you can power your personalization, request a WealthEngine demo now.

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