Why You Should Start Creating a Mid-Level Donor Program ASAP

September 21, 2018 | EveryAction Team

By focusing a little extra energy on your mid-level donors, you can raise more money and create a quality pipeline for your major gifts officers. Successful mid-level donor programs are all about providing donors with a personal touch while maintaining the analytic discipline that allows you to scale your programming.

When you’re managing an understaffed development team, you’re always rearranging your to-do list. You’re constantly making decisions about what you can afford to prioritize. How can we cultivate new donors while continuing to steward the supporters that we already have? What’s the next innovation for our membership team? Which new grants are within reach this year?

Even when you’re on the top of your game, some opportunities inevitably fall through the cracks. Mid-level donors are well-worth your time and attention. This group has serious potential for renewal or upgrades.

Mid-level donors are too often neglected but cultivated properly, they can be a major revenue stream for your nonprofit. Although these donors make up only 1% of the overall donor pool, their giving constitutes over a third (34%) of philanthropic contributions. So, who are these donors?

1. Identify Your Mid-Level Donors

The mid-level donor category stretches between your organization’s largest average donor and the smallest major donor. If your organization’s average gift is around $200 and your major gifts team handles donors who give $5,000 and more, then your mid-level donors are those who make contributions between $350 and $4,999. Collaborate with your membership and major gifts teams to discern who these donors are.

Once you’ve identified your mid-level donors, it is time to start developing a mid-level donor program. This program will borrow from the strengths of your development team as a whole. You’ll want the personal touch that your major gifts officers have mastered paired with the analytical savvy of your membership team.

2. Assign Dedicated Staff

At least one development staffer on your team should focus on cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding mid-level donors. If you have capacity on your existing team, consider assigning this task to a staffer on your major gifts team.

Your mid-level giving manager should be the primary point of contact for these donors. Every welcome packet and handwritten thank you note should include their business card. Email signatures should encourage donors to reach out to the point of contact. They’ll receive thoughtful calls and emails about what moves the donor to give. Of course, your mid-level donors will also share their vision for the future of your nonprofit.

3. Brand your Mid-Level Giving Program

A branded group, with increased access to your organization, provides a sense of exclusivity for your mid-level donors. Treat these donors like investors.

Start by giving this special group a name. A distinct brand signals to donors that they command the respect and the attention of the organization. Consider naming the group after a well-known advocate for your cause. You can also pick a broader name like The President’s Circle, The Conservation Society, or the Leadership Club.

4. Provide More Sophisticated Content

Once you’ve named your program, it’s time to determine what perks you’ll share with these donors. Provide them with sophisticated content and create calls, webinars, or events to provide them deeper insight into the organization. Consider hosting a quarterly conference call with your executive director to update your donors about your nonprofit’s work.

Your major gifts team is probably already creating incredible content that can be adapted to share with your mid-level audience. As you communicate with these donors, continue to center the donor in your messaging. You literally could not run your nonprofit without their support, so make them the heroes of your story.

5. Make Fewer Asks

This one is simple. When you’re asking for more money, you should be asking less frequently. For this group, make between two and eight solicitations a year, mostly via mail. Of course, that’s not to dissuade you from getting on the phone. Which leads to my next point…

6. Get on the Phone

Kick off your mid-level donor program with a round of cultivation, stewardship, and thank you calls. Hold a phone bank with your whole staff. Gather staffers from across your nonprofit and ask them to spend a night reaching out to these mid-level donors. Make sure to go through a quick training and provide a script that folks can use when they reach a donor’s voicemail.

Your mid-level donors will be delighted to receive a call without an ask attached. Some will even tell the caller when in the year they prefer to be solicited. Note all of the fresh insights you receive in your moves management software.

7. Say Thank You

You already know how crucial a proper thank you is. When working with mid-level donors, make sure that your thank yous are always personalized and thoughtful. Consider sending a handwritten thank you note or personal email for each gift.

When a donor increases their giving, make sure that you acknowledge their increased commitment. Call the donor to say thanks or better yet, have your executive director or director of programming reach out. You’re building a life-long relationship with these donors. How you treat them now, whether they give $250 or $2,500 annually is crucial.

Creating a new development program is hard-work, but engaging your mid-level donor base is well worth the reward. Your mid-level donor program is part of a long-term cultivation strategy. Take advantage of EveryAction’s Development tools to make it count.