Midlevel Trends in a Post-COVID Landscape

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By Jamie Sargent

June 24, 2021

Sea Change Strategies recently published their report The Missing Middle: Part III to look back at how mid-level fundraising evolved since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Here are five of the key trends they found:

There were a few bright spots. 2020 was downright chaotic – events were cancelled, mail was delayed, and everything shifted to Zoom. Despite the pandemic and its accompanying challenges, most organizations reported strong fundraising results. Some even reported having their best fundraising year ever.

We embraced the chaos. Many organizations took the opportunity to restructure or overhaul their fundraising programs. The increase in donations made the case for hiring additional staff to steward and retain these new mid-level donors. As the report put it, “2018 was the year of the midlevel manager; 2021 was the year of the midlevel team.”

Zoom had its advantages. Virtual events have become the norm. While we deeply missed in-person events, virtual events were able to transcend geography and ultimately reach more donors. Also, donors who did not previously attend niche events such as black-tie galas were able to attend these events virtually, often free of charge.

We returned to (often neglected) fundraising basics. In 2020, there was major shift back to providing more personal attention to all donors, especially at the mid-level. We saw were more handwritten notes, phone calls, and Zoom conversations. We were also reminded that audiences tend to lose interest in online experiences lasting longer than 60 minutes, and often less.

Philanthropy must decenter whiteness. Philanthropy in America is built largely on wealth accumulated at the expense of Black and Brown people. Decentering whiteness is a complex, difficult, and urgent transformation that we must take on to make our system equitable.

Thank you, Mark Rovner and Alia Mckee, for sharing your findings and expertise. In keeping with their passion for mid-level fundraising, Sea Change Strategies operates a free listserv for mid-level fundraisers that the Impact team and many of our clients find very rewarding. To join the listerv, email info@seachangestrategies.com or visit www.seachangestrategies.com.

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