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How RFDS SE used benchmarking to develop their Mid-Value programme

— Written by Jasmine Coronado, Strategic Advisor, Marlin Communications.

The Benchmarking Project is helping member charities better understand their donors’ behaviour by standardising data and results across individual giving programmes.

The 2023 Essentials Report identified the mid-value donor segment (defined as gift of $1,000 or more) as one of the fastest growing segments. Mid-Value donation income has increased by 55% over the last 10 years, during a period when many individual giving streams are struggling to show significant growth.


The Benchmarking Project insights provided an opportunity to Royal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Section (RFDSE). It gave them the confidence to look at new ways to engage donors; understand donor behaviours so they could enrich the donor experience beyond a transactional one, to a more meaningful relationship.

In partnership with Marlin Communications, The Benchmarking Project’s insights helped inform RFDS SE’s initial brief to Marlin and set the context for why this project was needed:

A clear understanding of our own data along with the key drivers behind mid-level giving and tactics that were successful in similar organisations, enabled us to create a well-informed, data-driven project brief to ensure we can develop an effective program to best meet the needs and expectations of our mid-level donors.

Mila Styran, Retention and Development ManagerRoyal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Section

Insights from the report indicated mid-value donors are driven by long term transformational impact and are more loyal to their organisations of choice. The significant growth within this segment was driven by response rate rather than an increase in giving level (average gift).

This indicates there was latent potential within the mid-value group to increase their frequency of giving that could be harnessed by better data, leading to more impactful communications.

These insights, coupled with our experience defining and growing mid-value programmes, provided guidance for our approach:

A) Development of a bespoke survey to get to know these donors more intimately — their motivations, their values, and how these factors influence when and how they decide to give.

B) A series of one to one interviews with mid-value donors to validate the assumptions about this audience group as well as get to know their perspectives in a more meaningful manner. The anecdotes and opinions gathered from these interviews were invaluable and will influence the proposition for mid-value donors. We uncovered deep set values and motivations which we can now leverage in the development of the new program.

C) Using the insights gathered, coupled with The Benchmarking Project’s insights, to build a mid-value programme that focuses on nurturing loyalty, building trust and creating a programme that shows mid-value donors the type of transformational impact they can have on the organisation’s mission and vision.

We are very excited to use these insights to inform the development of a new giving experience for RFDS SE’s mid-value donors.

By creating benchmarks of programmatic outcomes that are grounded in comparable data—not feelings, nor intuition—they have been used to guide RFDS SE’s objectives for the development of their mid-value fundraising strategy in a novel and exciting way.

If you’d like to discuss mid-value fundraising strategy further, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected] or call me on 0403 666 423.