Welcome back to the second part of our mid-level Q&A. For those of you who may have missed our last blog, we answered questions about how to handle mid-level donors you don’t hear back from, how to qualify mid-level donors (spoiler alert, you don’t), and the difference between major gifts qualification and the mid-level introduction series, among a few other top tips and reasons behind our approach.
Let’s jump right back where we left off…
Q: How often should I be moving my mid-level donors to major gifts?
A: We recommend reviewing portfolio moves twice a year. Typically, six months into your fiscal year and then again after the fiscal year has closed are good times to see who has upgraded to your major gifts threshold. However, we don’t recommend moving ALL donors who have upgraded their giving.
Instead, make sure you’re tracking which donors have upgraded AND that you’ve had a two-way connection with. That’s a much stronger donor to move. You’re able to introduce them to the major gift officer in a way that allows them to understand that the change is about better serving them, AND they go to the major gift officer as an already relationally qualified donor.
So, what do you do with your major gift level donors that you haven’t had a two-way connection with? Well, this one depends. If your major gift officers have full caseloads, we recommend you keep the donors in mid-level for a time. The goal is to continue trying to secure a two-way connection so you can eventually move them, as relationally qualified, to your major gift officer. If you have a new major gifts team that still needs donors to qualify, you might consider moving them based solely on the gift amount. But remember, your job as a mid-level officer is to build those relationships, have those two-way connections, and move those donors to major gifts. It’s a key component of our mid-level KPIs – Keep, Lift, and MOVE!
Q: How often do I remove mid-level donors from my portfolio?
A: As in the previous point – we recommend removing donors at the six- and 12-month marks. Remember (yes, I’m a broken record) we are only removing them if their giving shows they’re two-year lapsed. And, if they asked for no personal contact, we should remove them instantly! Donor preferences trump all other rules.
Q: How often should I be sending mid-level touch points?
A: Remember, mid-level is a one-to-some approach. A caseload of 600 can be overwhelming if not managed properly. You must give yourself time and grace when it comes to your touch points. The introduction process, with intro letters and follow-up calls, tends to take about 60-90 days. But, once you’re through that phase, touch points should be sent every 45-60 days. This equates to seven or eight touches annually.
We strongly recommend building out a mid-level communications calendar so you can prioritize what your donors are receiving, how they’re receiving them (we like to alternate between phone, mail, and email – but, again, donor preferences always trump that!), and the type of touch point. You don’t want to send them the same thing every 45-60 days. Build out a touch point plan that includes You Made a Difference (YMAD) pieces, impact statements, thank you messages, and personal touch points.
What do I mean by personal? Well, for your Tier A donors that you’re getting to know, if you know they love gardening and you see a beautiful article on gardening, send it to them. Treat them like a person you care about, not just a source of money. Our free White Paper, Digital Touch Points: Meaningful Ways to Connect With Donors, discusses different types of touch points you can use to meaningfully connect with your donors. This incredible resource is a must-read and will help spark some ideas for you!
Q: I was already sending materials out to donors, and we just recently started implementing The Veritus Way, so now what? How do I manage donors that have already been hearing from me?
A: Honestly, that’s a big “it depends.” By and large, if organizations aren’t following our process, materials were sent to donors without a true introduction. If this was the approach for your organization, we recommend altering an introduction note to say something like, “For the past several months, I’ve been sending you stories about the difference your support has made, and I wanted to pause and take a moment to introduce myself…” This is a great way to own the situation, while also sharing more about who you are.
That said, if you’ve already had a call with a donor and they know you, please don’t send them an introduction letter. That’s not a relationship-based approach. Always, and I mean always, put yourself in the donor’s shoes. What would feel good if you received it, how would you want to be communicated with? You can’t go wrong when the donor lens is at the forefront of your work.
There you have it, a few of your top mid-level questions answered. I hope it’s been helpful, and maybe even inspired you to examine some of your processes to ensure your work focuses on your donors first!
Keep the questions coming, and we’ll keep answering them! I enjoyed writing this Q&A blog – and, a big thanks to all of YOU for inspiring me to do something new!
Kara Ansotegui is Director of Client Services at Veritus Group. She has over 20 years of experience in non-profit leadership serving in fundraising and marketing executive roles. Kara has been responsible for strategic program development in major gifts, mid-level, and donor relations. She has served as the CRM data management SME for numerous non-profits. Kara has an undergraduate in Business Administration from Oregon State University and an MBA in Marketing from Georgia State University.