Thursday Thoughts: transforming mid-level donors into major donors
Welcome to another installment of Thursday Thoughts, a dedicated space for our friends in nonprofit sector leadership to reflect on reports, statistics, and other trends—because when our community shares knowledge, we can all do more good. Check out our last installment here!
One way to meet new major donors is to steward existing donors into upgrading their gifts to your nonprofit organization. We all know it’s generally more efficient to retain an existing donor than to acquire a net new one, but how can busy fundraisers upgrade mid-level donors effectively and efficiently? And what are some of the ways technology can help support those efforts? Here’s what our friend Andrea Bastiani Archibald at Orr Group said.
Personalized communication and engagement strategies are critical to helping mid-level donors see the value and potential impact of increasing their donations to your nonprofit organization. But have no fear — personalized approaches don’t always require more time or resources from busy fundraisers. Know where and how to focus your efforts with a meaningful and/or personal touch and balance this with when to employ technologies for connection and efficiency. The key is to make donors feel valued and appreciated while demonstrating the tangible benefits of deeper connection with and potential impact on your organization, through increased giving.
Remember: one size doesn’t fit all. Divide your mid-level donors into segments based on giving history, their personal interests in your organization, and engagement level. Create and tailor your messaging and approach to each group’s preferences.
Invite mid-level donors into your strategy. Too often we only invite those making major gifts into the strategy fold. Create personalized messages or schedule in-person meetings or phone calls to highlight the impact of individual donors’ previous contributions and connect them to the organization’s larger goals. Mention specific projects or initiatives that align with their interests. As you advance and/or refine your strategy, these insights will allow you to explore new ways that donors can continue to support your work with more significant gifts and greater impact.
Another important best practice is to leverage technology in all the best ways to assist with personal touch points and engagement journeys. These four are key:
Use constituent relationship management (CRM) systems to better understand patterns and track donor interactions, preferences, and giving history. Learnings like these can support your segmentation and personalized outreach, but only if your organization makes a practice of storing them in one place to ensure that all the right staff will have access to all the right information at just the right times. Utilize workflows and automations to send out emails and remind your fundraisers to reach out to better engage with your constituents.
2. Virtual events
While in-person engagements are important, you can also foster community by hosting virtual events that are designed to allow mid-level donors to interact with organizational leaders, fellow donors, and stakeholders. Storing the information you gather from these events in your CRM’s donor profiles will also allow your fundraisers to send future messages to donors that are more focused and effective.
3. Social media
If you haven’t already, move beyond the newsletter by using social media platforms and developing online communities to engage and showcase donors (and their movement from mid-level to major support), share success stories, and provide updates on impact. Allow donors to proudly repost and share to widen your organization’s base.
4. Online donation capabilities
Where relevant, offer easy-to-use online donation forms with options for recurring and upgraded giving over time. This can make it not only convenient for donors to increase their support, but easier for them to see the potential impact of even small increases in their gifts. Include impact stories and metrics in your acknowledgment and stewarding messages that show how far their dollar will go toward making an impact.
Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Ph.D., is a managing director at Orr Group. Andrea is an applied developmental psychologist and thought leader with expertise in nonprofit strategy and leadership support, and has a strong background in strategizing and utilizing technology to drive social good.