It’s easy for mid-level donors to fall through the cracks for nonprofits. More often than not, fundraising leaders like to focus on their first-time and major donors as they tend to be more high-pressure when it comes to their impact and retention rates.
However, even though they’re only 5-10% of an average nonprofit’s donor base, mid-level donors can actually represent 40-50% of their total annual revenue and therefore do deserve a dedicated engagement strategy. But who exactly are your mid-level donors and how should you be treating them?
If you want to find your own mid-level donors, it’s a good idea to look at your donor management solution. They will usually span from your largest average donor to your smallest major donor. Organize your donors based on the metrics above, adapting them as needed to your budget, and size.
Once you’ve identified them, it’s time to engage them. How you engage and recognize your donors can directly affect how often and much they’ll give as well as their overall relationship with your mission. This guide will walk through 5 tips that you can implement to improve your mid-donor engagement strategy, increase retention rates, and further develop these types of relationships:
- Ensure your mission is clear
- Celebrate nonprofit successes and milestones
- Show ample donor appreciation
- Reach out to them for feedback
- Think of ways to increase their levels of engagement
Don’t let your mid-level donors fall to middle child syndrome and be forgotten. Ready to dive in? Let’s begin.
1. Ensure your mission is clear
As mentioned previously, it’s not uncommon to find yourself focusing on other donor groups before your mid-level donors. If you do inadvertently neglect your mid-level donors, you risk those relationships, and those supporters may find themselves unsure if their efforts even benefit the cause that they’re so passionate about.
To make up for this gap, you should ensure that all communication and marketing content you create has your nonprofit’s mission clear and visible to your mid-level donors.
Here are some examples of how you can emphasize your nonprofit mission to your mid-level donors:
- Reiterate mission in social media posts with photos of the community you’ve helped.
- Display mission statement proudly on your website and social media bios.
- Remind recipients in direct fundraising appeals of how exactly their gift will affect your mission.
- Incorporate your mission statement into your nonprofit logo and use it to brand all of your content.
This way, your mid-level donors are constantly made aware of how your campaigns and one-off events play into your overall goals. It also further reminds them that their support is indeed a crucial part of achieving your mission.
2. Celebrate nonprofit successes and milestones
When engaging with your mid-level donors, you should do more than just ask for donations, sponsorships, and other forms of support. No one likes a relationship where one side is constantly asking for help without anything to show for it. This is why you should also actively share your organization’s successes.
Your successes include all major fundraising goals met and actions your organization has taken to further its mission. For instance, let’s say your organization has been aiming to feed 1,000 families in a month during an ongoing online fundraising campaign. Once this metric is met, you might:
- Send an email announcement to everyone who contributed to the campaign.
- Post on social media celebrating the successes.
- Create a video or photo montage of the specific actions you’ve taken or the community members you’ve helped.
This way, your mid-level donors know exactly where their contributions went and how their efforts and gifts played a role.
3. Show ample appreciation
You should be showing ample appreciation to all of your donors as soon as they give to your organization. This is especially true of your mid-level donors who can be easily neglected if not deliberately engaged.
An easy way to do this is using an automated communication tool and triggering a thank you email as soon as a donation is received.
Including a thank you as a regular part of your mid-level donor engagement strategy will go a long way, especially if you want to develop those relationships even further. According to Eleven Fifty Seven, “When you understand how to thank donors in a meaningful, intentional way, you will be able to form stronger ties with supporters and better pursue your mission over time.”
This means going past just a general email with “Dear friend.” Make sure that you can populate all communications with the donors actual name as well as include the gift amount that they provided. Connections between your email and donor database are critical here.
However, if you want to grow your mid-level donations, you’re going to need more than emails. Personal phone calls, letters, gifts in the mail, and thank you events should all be worked into your overarching recognition strategy. We’ll dive into how to increase your mid-level donors’ engagement later on in this article.
4. Reach out to them for feedback
If you want to better engage your mid-level donors, it’s a good idea to simply reach out to them and ask for feedback.
Look at your donor management software and first figure out who your mid-level donors are. We briefly discussed this in the beginning, but to recap, here are the basic steps:
- Look at your gifts from the previous 6-12 months.
- Rank your gifts by amount.
- Figure out your average donation amount.
- From the largest gift, start going down until you hit about 75% of your total funds to find your major donors.
- Your mid-level donors are those who gave between your average donation amount and your lowest major donation amount.
Once you have a list of your mid-level donors, create an email segment. Using insight from Doubleknot’s donor segmentation article, “Instead of trying to connect with everyone in a large, heterogeneous donor population at the same time, effective donor segmentation makes it possible to tailor your content so that it’s most likely to resonate with each group.”
This way you can send specific targeted messaging directed just to your mid-level donors. Ask them questions on the type of communication preferences they have and get a sense of the type of events they might want to see. This shows them that you value their support and relationship.
And, be sure to actually use their input to inform your strategies going forward!
5. Think of ways to increase their levels of engagement
When you have mid-level donors, one of your primary objectives will be trying to increase their level of engagement. After all, the opportunities for mid-level donors seem limitless, as you often have the ability to convert them into more consistent, recurring donors or even major donors.
What are the ways you can increase your mid-level donors’ engagement? Here are some actionable tips you can take:
- Create a donor recognition wall. This is a permanent display that thanks and celebrates an organization’s supporters. If you’re building one for an existing campaign, consider expanding it or designing it in a way where you'll have room to showcase and call out your mid-level donors.
- Send physical mail or make a phone call. If you want to take a donor’s relationship to the next level, going past online engagements is a great next step. Consider writing a handwritten note or making a phone call the next time you want to show your appreciation or invite them to an event. Make sure your recognition methods are varied and don't rely on just one outlet. Give it some variety to keep donors’ attention and show that you're active and dynamic.
- Send a direct fundraising ask (when the time is right). If you want to increase your mid-level donors’ gift sizes, consider sending a direct fundraising ask with a gift amount slightly higher than their previous donations. Make sure to reiterate their previous impact and then clearly explain what an increased additional gift may bring.
- Be very specific with impact. As mentioned above, being specific with the impact of previous support is crucial. This is the best way you’re going to show mid-level donors that they’re integral to your mission and that increased involvement will make a huge difference.
Mid-level donors are important to your organization, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to further develop those relationships. Follow these tips and take your supporter relationships to the next level.
Your nonprofit’s mid-level donors might feel like a mystery if you don’t have concrete strategies for engaging and cultivating them. They don’t give enough to be considered a major donor but give more than a typical direct-response or one-time giver, but that doesn’t mean you should forgo a dedicated engagement strategy focused directly on your mid-level engagements. To kick off your mid-level donor engagement, use the strategies we’ve described here! Good luck.