The Missing Middle Part I – A Problem for All Nonprofits and How To Fix It

June 07, 2022

In this episode of the NP Local podcast, Jason Cass and Scott Niermann, discuss the “missing middle” which is an issue for almost all nonprofits, in that 40-60% of annual/event donors are not retained a second year after their first gift. This 2008 research informs nonprofit managers on the issue and proposes several concepts and strategies to address it.

Episode Highlights:

  • Scott discusses the “Sea Change Strategies – The Missing Middle Report“, which looks at the issue of retaining annual donors after the first year and offers strategies for nonprofit organizations to address the issue. (1:10) 
  • Scott talks about donor motivation, where studies show that donors would still want some kind of recognition, which is not being applied in the “missing middle”. (5:12)
  • Scott shares what the fund development strategy is about and how the “missing middle” can benefit from it. (10:27)
  • Scott explains that leadership is important because they are the ones that are setting budgets to implement strategies. (13:37)
  • Scott mentions the importance of having the right content and being able to focus on subgroups with a personal touch. (16:54)
  • Scott shares how he started his first hospital foundation as the first director of the foundation. (20:35)

Key Quotes:

  • “Why is leadership important? Because those folks set the budgets, and you’ve got to have people and you’ve got to have the budget to implement the strategies.” – Scott Niermann
  • “What I think is the true limitation, though, is when folks believe that, as I said earlier, these special events equals fundraising, or that direct mail equals fundraising. Unfortunately, that is a pervasive mindset in small nonprofits.” – Scott Niermann
  • “I think there are some more important strategies, maybe some higher level thinking that needs to happen if you’re going to fix the problem of the millions of dollars that were missing out on in that missing middle.” – Scott Niermann

Resources Mentioned:

Other articles on similar topics or on these reports:

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