Mid-level giving programs are an essential component of development success: they create a pipeline for major giving, prepare prospects for major gifts cultivation, and increase retention.
Whether you’re thinking about creating a mid-level program or restructuring your current program, Campbell & Company’s partnership with MultiCare Health System provides a useful blueprint—and proves that the results are worthwhile.
MultiCare is the largest community-based, locally governed health care system in the state of Washington. Over seven months, we worked closely with MultiCare’s development team to build a comprehensive program focused on mid-level donors.
Read on to review our process and explore lessons learned. If you’re interested in discussing our mid-level giving services, feel free to contact me.
WHERE WE STARTED: THE CHALLENGE
In early 2018, MultiCare was facing a roadblock as it worked to build a stronger major giving pipeline. The development program was focused on identifying potential major giving prospects from the annual fund.
Prospects with significant capacity were identified and upgraded from the annual fund to a major gift portfolio. However, many were unresponsive or difficult to reach because they weren’t accustomed to working with a major gift officer.
After failed attempts to connect with these new prospects, major gift officers shifted their focus back to donors who were currently giving. The consequence? Giving from this group began to decrease because prospects had been moved prematurely and without qualification. Instead of abruptly shifting these donors from the annual fund to a major donor portfolio, we proposed cultivating high potential donors in a mid-level portfolio.
Creating a mid-level program would enable MultiCare to build more meaningful relationships with this important segment of donors so that when the time was right, they would be open to becoming more involved with the organization.
IDENTIFYING MID-LEVEL DONORS
We worked closely with MultiCare to build a customized framework for their mid-level giving program. Our first big questions: Who are MultiCare’s potential mid-level donors? How did they want to define a mid-level donor? What common traits do these donors have?
In general, the mid-level donor category should be focused on donor capacity, accessibility, and previous giving history, with a heavy weight on this last factor. For MultiCare, this meant focusing on donors with historical giving between $1,000-$5,000 and the capacity to give $5,000+ gifts. Once identified, these donors were then moved into the mid-level giving portfolio.
Donors who have shown the interest and ability to give at a sustained level are prime candidates for a mid-level portfolio. MultiCare did an internal analysis of their donor pool to build a strong list of candidates, but other organizations may benefit from a capacity analysis at this step to identify untapped potential in the middle of the giving pyramid.
HIRING AND ONBOARDING A MID-LEVEL GIVING OFFICER
Our next initiative focused on selecting and training the staff member to steward mid-level prospects. The optimum portfolio for a mid-level giving officer typically ranges from 600-800 donors. Based on the list of donors identified, we recommended hiring one officer to start the program. We also helped MultiCare think about key attributes needed for a phone-based gift officer and developed a job description.
Next, we sat in on interviews, sharing feedback on each candidate. Once the gift officer was chosen, the onboarding process began. We assisted MultiCare in devising an onboarding experience that would set this new team member—and the mid-level program—up for success.
We stressed the importance of building strong connections between the mid-level giving officer, the annual fund, and major gifts. The new officer needed to develop relationships with key staff members and understand the goals and day-to-day work of a major gift officer and an annual fund team.
Beyond that, our team conducted training sessions for the new gift officer focusing on:
- Developing customized phone-based relationships, including introduction and warming strategies
- Providing the right level of attention to mid-level donors
- Cultivating mid-level donors, including research on giving patterns
- Thanking and stewarding the donors
A final component of the onboarding process involved introducing the mid-level officer to key stakeholders outside of development, including physicians and program officers.
DEVELOPING COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES AND COLLATERAL
Next, we focused on creating a communication strategy for MultiCare’s new mid-level program. To ensure a seamless move from annual to mid-level, MultiCare had to prepare its mid-level prospects for the transition. This meant creating personalized material that would give these donors an insider’s perspective on MultiCare’s affairs.
To accomplish this, our team advised MultiCare on the use of dollar handles, encouraging them to include price points for support:
Your gift of $1,650 can cover the cost of a family’s month-long stay at Tree House while their child receives life-saving care at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.
Your gift of $3,200 can provide grief and loss support services for a family, including counseling, meal carts, and memory stone.
Your gift of $4,996 makes an entire year of care for an adult with special needs through the MultiCare Adult Day Health Center possible.
Dollar handles encourage donors to give by showing them what their gift can accomplish, which in turn makes them feel like an integral partner to MultiCare’s mission.
We also provided counsel on the use of mini-campaigns. Each mini-campaign lasts two to three months, and we advised MultiCare to conduct four to six campaigns each year. The mini-campaign illustrates a problem in the form of a story and talks about MultiCare’s work to address that problem.
Mini-campaigns are promoted through a 360° approach, with mail, phone, and online touchpoints. In this way, donors receive educational information about MultiCare’s diverse commitments and are invited to learn more about specific causes.
TYING IT ALL TOGETHER
At the end of our work together, our team presented MultiCare with a path forward, including:
- Program benchmarks, including goals and KPIs informed by leadership
- Recommendations for necessary leadership
- Advice for collaboration between annual fund, mid-level, and major gifts programs
“Our partnership with Campbell & Company has been a major key to our mid-level program’s success. From defining the program to hiring our first mid-level gift officer all the way to refining the program, their services have been a vital element in our journey to bridge the gap between annual fund and major gifts.
It has been invaluable to be able to reach out with questions and bounce ideas as we navigated these uncharted waters.” - Tonya Winski, Annual Giving Manager, MultiCare Health System
WHERE WE ARE NOW: THE IMPACT
In the short time since MultiCare implemented its mid-level giving program, the organization has seen significant success. MultiCare’s mid-level giving officer started in March 2018 and has been able to secure several large gifts. This included raising over $300,000 as well as securing a legacy gift. The mid-level program surpassed expectations in 2018, meeting its calendar year goal in October.
So far in 2019, MultiCare has begun to increase the number of mid-level donor prospects, focusing on highly personalized communications and donor retention.
As the program continues to grow, so will its successes.