An Award-Winning Mid-Level Campaign

DMFA Award


By Hannah Summers

October 17, 2022

Donors who write checks for four and five figure gifts are some of your organization’s best and most dedicated donors. Called mid-level donors or “not-yet” major donors, this group generates significant revenue for your mission. When designing direct marketing campaigns for these special donors, investing in higher touch packages can pay big dividends.

For years, many organizations have used a high-touch mini-proposal format for these mid-level donors. Our mini-proposal campaign for the National Park Foundation’s summer appeal performed extremely well for many years. The package mails in a 9” x 12” envelope and includes a cover letter from the CEO and a personalized five-page proposal outlining key program initiatives. On the reply form, we also utilize a giving chart to urge donors to stretch to higher giving levels.

In 2021, the client had the opportunity to screen their mid-level donor file and identify a group of donors with the capacity to give at higher levels. To maximize response and upgrading from this special segment, we decided to enhance the package with a full-color tri-fold folder with beautiful park imagery and a copy of the gift officer’s business card. The cover letter and proposal nested inside the folder.

So, what happened? The higher-touch folder package had a comparable response rate to the previous year’s control package. But here’s the big win: the average gift nearly quadrupled – a 236% increase. Overall gross income was up 69%, more than offsetting the additional cost of the folder.

We are proud to say that this campaign was the overall winner for the Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association (DMFA) Awards.  Kathy Swayze was honored to present our winning package at a DMFA luncheon in New York last month.

This winning package is a good reminder that it pays to invest more in your direct mail packages as you move up the donor pyramid. Rather than thinking of this as an expensive packge on a  “per piece” cost basis, consider the opportunity to significantly build your relationship with the donor through the mail.  By providing in-depth programmatic information in an elegant format, you make your donors feel like true partners. Spending money on packages that make donors feel special not only deepens your relationship but also generates significant net revenue for your mission.

A hearty congratulations to the team that pulled off this 2021 winning campaign, Nicole Engdahl, Genevieve Paul and Ashley Hass (National Park Foundation) and Julie Price, CFRE and Hannah Summers (Impact).

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