Mid Value donor (MV) programmes – everybody knows they should have one but few examples exist in the UK, or indeed globally, of charities successfully implementing a well thought through approach to this key donor segment.  Where MV programmes have been put in place, the results can be astounding.  One charity that we worked with saw the gifts from one donor grow from an average of £450 a year to over £30,000 a year!

This type of programme will only succeed if it is properly planned and resourced.  Click here for our THINKing on some of the key aspects you need to consider.

Recipe for Mid Value success

Mid Value programmes will be successful if attention is paid to the following aspects during the programme development stage:

Be clear on objectives, definitions and protocols: it is vital that you develop a clear set of definitions for the programme – will the programme target warm or cold audiences? Will it be used for recruitment, retention or development of donors – or all three? What level of gifts will donors in the programme being making?  Will you make restricted asks?  How will you determine when a donor is considered for inclusion in the programme or for moving to a high value or major donor programme?  Clarity about these types of issues at the outset will ensure your MV programme is developed within a focused framework.  It will also help to secure support from other teams who may previously have worked with donors now included in the MV pool.

Understand your audience: this is critical in developing MV programmes.  We’ve seen charities fail in this area because they make incorrect assumptions about what donors who they want to move into a closer relationship with want to hear about and how they want to be recognised and communicated with.  Common areas where charities get it wrong are around the type of proposition to make, the level of personal contact a MV donor will want and whether the MV programme need to be set up as a  “giving club” with a distinct name and identity.  These sorts of issues are very organisation specific and so the only way to find out is to ask your donors through a range of survey techniques.

A compelling proposition told in the right tone of voice: of course all fundraising relies on a strong and emotive story that engages a donor in the impact of your charity’s work.  The key to finding the right MV proposition is accepting that the programme will still be talking to a large audience rather than on a one to one basis with donors and so the story must be recognisable.  Programmes have failed when they have tried to talk about areas of their work which are new to the donor and do not constitute a seamless part of the ongoing story presented.   Tone of voice is also critical in communications with MV donors, copy must be bespoke for the programme and adaptation of mass DM appeal, for example, by including a “shopping list” of higher value items will be doomed to fail!

Data, data, data!:  MV programmes are data hungry!  They require initial and ongoing data analysis and profiling to identify prospects from amongst the charity’s database and to develop profiles for approaching cold audiences if that is part of the objective of the MV programme.  Mid Value fundraisers will need intense support from their in house data teams, or the budget to outsource this support.

Communication plans are key: here you need to think about the volume of asks versus information giving communications, whether you can offer exclusive information to these donors such as a preview of a TV advert or an announcement regarding services and importantly the mix of channels you are going to use.  Again, it is vital to guard against assumptions here and ensure that questions around communication preferences are include in your audience research.

Measuring success: it can be difficult to make the case for the investment needed in the staff and other resources required and so it is critical that you set clear income targets and associated KPIs for a MV programme, particularly during its initial phase.  These should be communicated at regular intervals.  This will enable senior managers to understand the value nd impact of what is being delivered.

So some food for thought on some of the vital ingredients for a successful MV programme.  When properly implemented, MV programmes can deliver “quick win” income with strong ROI compared to other income streams – but focused pre planning and thinking is key and an upfront investment in doing this well will help to ensure that the income rolls!


Michelle Chambers