Major Gift Officers with high-end portfolios should welcome strategies that focus on mid-level prospects. This article highlights just a few of the many approaches that can be taken to motivate high-capacity donors to give beyond modest amounts on the way to making major gifts.
Click here to read this article from The Chronicle of Philanthropy. This link is valid until May 30th.
I had the pleasure of visiting China for the first time last month to watch my wife, Heather, compete in her 10th Ironman Triathlon. We spent a few easy days in the bustling city of Hong Kong then we were off to the island of Hainan. In Hainan condos and office buildings were in various stages of construction everywhere. Wonder what it will look like in ten years? I also began to wonder if a philanthropic culture exists in China. According to a government study, charitable giving in China reached $15.7 Billion (US) in 2008 – three times the amount of giving in the prior year! That’s modest by comparison to the $307 Billion donated in the US in 2008, but still an encouraging sign.
On our side of the world, many of us are working hard to attract mid-level gifts — annual gifts of $1,000 – $10,000. These folks are often the backbone of our annual campaigns and many of them will become our major gift donors of tomorrow.
Are there simple ways to identify the prospects most capable of making mid-level gifts? Consider this, as a general rule of thumb, Americans give 2-3% of their household income to charity. A household earning $100,000 could be conceivably giving $2,000 – $3,000 every year – perhaps $1,000 going to their top charitable priority with $1,000-$2,000 for all other causes combined. Unmarried donors (with no kids) may be in a position to step up to a $1,000 gift while earning less.
As of 2005, 16% of American households had incomes over $100,000. That translates into approximately 18 Million households, and the percentage at this level increases for those of us working largely with college-educated constituencies. We’ve just identified a large pool of financially-capable families in our mid-level gift range. Of course, a donor’s affinity to the organization plays a significant role as well, but the great thing about mid-level giving is that most non-profits can excel in this area. With such a vast pool of prospects, doesn’t it make sense to devote resources to attracting mid-level donors?
Since the start of Charitable Partners in 2002, we’ve worked hard to help organizations launch or expand efforts to attract major gifts. A central strategy has involved maximizing the number of mid-level major gifts. Mid-level major gifts are donations that range from $1,000 to $10,000 annually often in the form of multi-year pledges. This level of giving can become the “bread and butter” of your organization.
We’re launching this blog to help share stories and ideas with our friends. If you’re involved in securing mid-level major gifts for your organization or simply believe that mid-level giving has great potential, we hope you will subscribe to this blog and post comments with some of your own thoughts and ideas.
Many organizations can be successful in the middle of the giving pyramid. Sure, certain fundamentals must exist, like good constituent data and a solid case for support. We strongly believe an effective mid-level giving initiative can be implemented more quickly and effectively than a lot of people may think.
Charitable giving has certainly entered a new era. It may be some time before we return the type of economic environment seen in the ten or so years leading up to ’08 and ’09. As organizations see the number of total donors decline and fewer opportunities for really big gifts, improving mid-level major giving initiatives not only makes good sense but could make the difference in the success of your campaign.
Our plan is to post every week or so with tips, stories, and innovative ideas. Thanks for visiting; we hope your year is off to a great start!
Charitable Partners, a Pursuant Group Company