What are “Tweeners” and What Should You do With Them?

“Tweeners.”  Every non-profit has them.  No, I’m not talking about kids between 10-12 years old.  I’m talking about donors who have given much more than a typical direct-mail donor, but not quite enough to call them a major donor.  They’re in-between.  I call them “tweeners.”

I think you know what I’m talking about.  Every donor file I’ve reviewed has this type of donor.  The question is, “What should I do with them?”  The answer is, “Something.”

The problem with doing nothing is that if you leave these donors in your current direct-mail program they might continue to just hang in there with you, but they will never grow because they really haven’t been challenged to do so.  So, while you’re getting great ROI from these donors, the danger is that you might be leaving revenue on the table because you never asked for anything more.

There is nothing worse than leaving revenue on the table.  To me, that means you’re either not doing enough or you’re not being creative enough to pick up that revenue.

However, the problem with putting these “tweeners” into your major gift program is that you run the risk of forgetting about them.  Put a $500 donor up against a $50,000 a year donor and you can easily understand why an MGO would spend most of her time on the latter.  What does that mean for the smaller donor?  Usually it means less communication, less asks and ultimately less revenue.

Unfortunately, I see this quite a bit.

This is why Richard and I recommend creating a mid-level major gift donor strategy, or a “Tweener Strategy.”

Over the next few blog posts I am going to discuss how to create a rock-solid mid-level donor plan.  But before I get into strategy, you need to look at a few things first so you don’t get ahead of yourself:

Here are three things you have to know before you get started on strategy:

  1. Know your current metrics:  You need to have a good grasp of what the metrics of your current fundraising strategies are.  For instance, what is the current ROI of your direct-response and major gift program?  How much revenue have you brought in from your mid-level donors over the last three years? (Mid-level could be different for each non-profit.  For some it’s $250-$999.00 cume per year and for others, $1,000-$4,999 cume per year.  It all depends on your size.) What are the current retention rates of both your direct –response and major gift programs?
  2. Test it:  If you have a large enough quantity of donors, we recommend that you conduct an A/B split test with your mid-level group where A receives the current direct-response strategy and B receives the new mid-level strategy.  The reason for this is to ensure that the extra time and resources you are putting into this new strategy make financial sense.
  3. Understand what you are measuring to show success.  For a mid-level program here is what you want to measure:  retention rates, percentage of donors who upgrade their giving, ROI (total revenue divided by cost) and finally, the number of donors who move up to the major donor program.

Okay, if you have a good grasp on these three, then we’re ready to get going and start talking strategy.

Just remember, a great mid-level donor strategy is designed to deepen the engagement level of your donors in a cost-effective manner so as to help retain and upgrade their giving.

Next time I’ll talk about great strategies for a mid-level program and how to cost-effectively manage it.

This is fun stuff!



About Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry

Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry have over 55 years of experience fundraising for non-profits. Richard Perry was co-owner of Domain Group until 2005. Jeff Schreifels was a Senior Strategist for Domain Group for 12 years. They came together a few years ago to start Veritus Group, a full-service major gift fundraising agency. Veritus Group has a unique, data-driven approach unlike any agency focused on major gifts. Jeff and Richard are passionate about their work, passionate about life and hopes this blog will provide you with insights and tangible benefits for you and your work. Thank you for reading!
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