The 3 Ms: Major/Mid-Level, Monthly, and Multi-Channel

By Impact Team

April 19, 2018

I loved the strawberry shortcake at Commander’s Palace, but another highlight of my recent trip to the AFP International Fundraising Conference in New Orleans, was a session with Jon Biedermann of DonorPerfect and Nathan Dietz, Ph.D. of the University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute.

Whenever I have a chance to learn more about donor behavior, I jump at the chance because, as marketers, we can’t influence donor behavior with our messages unless we first understand it. And these guys had insights to share.

Starting with the DonorPerfect platform’s entire donor history of 77 million donors and 224 million transactions, they analyzed a 1% sample or 2.24 million gift transactions. Their data sample included the entire donor history for 427,000 donors across many sectors from human services, to religion, and education to the arts. You can find the slide deck from their presentation here:

Here are a few highlights that I found interesting and, in some cases, actionable.

Insights on First gifts: 

35% of donors made a first gift of $24 or less.

The median amount of a first gift was relatively flat from 1980 to 2010, but has been steadily increasing and was $40 in 2017.

Insights on Major gifts: 

The percentage of the overall donors who are giving at the $10K+ level was 1.2%. (How does this compare to your organization?) But the revenue generated by this 1.2% made up 65% of all contributed dollars. And, lest you think these major donors just fall from the sky, their data shows that 23% of donors giving $10,000 or more started with a first gift of $500 or less.

Insights on Multichannel Donors:

In 2017, 10% of donors in their study were online (7.9%) or multi-channel (2.1%) donors. But multichannel donors are more valuable than offline only donors, online only donors, or even monthly donors. In 2017, the median annual amount for multi-channel donors was $325, compared to just $216 for monthly donors, $100 for online only, and $75 for offline only.

There’s tons more data to be had in their slide deck so I encourage you to check it out. But for now, Biederman and Dietz conclude that your fundraising success can be found in the 3 Ms: major donors (or mid-level), monthly donors, and multi-channel donors. (And, of course, I would have to add planned giving donors—even though it doesn’t begin with an M!)

Hope you’ve enjoyed these insights. Let us know what you’re seeing in your program.

Photo credit: Tom Magliery Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license.

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