Mid-Level Donors = Low Hanging Fruit?

Mid-Level Donors.

We’re all talking about these lovely folks in your data base who are already giving significantly – and the potential they offer.

But what to do with them, when you are already practically burdened by too much to do??

Today, here’s a clear 5-step plan upgrade your mid-donors and take them to new giving heights.

We’ll follow the basic, fundamental principles of fundraising:

  • Know who to ask.
  • Know their interest in what you do.
  • Have a compelling case for your work.
  • Make an ask for a specific amount.
  • Meaningful acknowledgement and appreciation of their support.

And we’ll apply these fundamentals to the “middle donors” in your database who have capacity to give more.

Here are five steps to start transforming your mid-level donors into major gift donors.

1. Good Data and Segmentation.

All good fundraising starts or stops here – with your data.

You need good reports and information about donors in your database records.

If you can’t create reports and segment your donors by first gift, last gift, largest gift, and cumulative giving, stop what you are doing today and fix your data management (Email us, we can help).

WHO are your mid-level donors?

Look on your reports for where your donors tend to group. It could be $100-$200, $500-$1,000, or higher.

Identify your mid-donor range and start reviewing your lists for capacity.

Look for:

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  • Cumulative giving (Indicates level of commitment to the organization)
  • Largest gift (for example, $100 every year but 4 years ago gave $1,200)
  • Other simple research to ID giving potential:
    • Gifts to other organizations
    • Political giving (opensecrets.org)
    • Home value (zwillow.com)

One of the best investments you can make is to bring in a create a college intern or a volunteer to help research donors.

I’ve done this multiple times and they discovered invaluable information that was so helpful.

2. Know Your Mid-Level Donors.

Try these steps:

  • Start with the top donors – the highest identified capacity.
  • Work your way down the list.
  • Set aside time every week for calls and meetings to say thank you.
  • Ask them: “Why do you support our organization?”

This simple question will start to tell you how to move your $100 donor to $1,000, your $500 donor to $5,000, and up. Maybe use a volunteer to make thank you phone calls to them.

Be sure to record the info a donor shares in their database record.

That information gives you the basis create a solicitation plan – either one-on-one cultivation, or an upgrade appeal letter.

You choose.

But do make a plan for each capacity donor that will lead to a either an in-person or an appeal Ask.

3. Ask Organizational Questions

Before you create a plan to upgrade middle donors, ask these important questions internally:

  • What would our organization do with additional revenue?
  • What mission objectives will be achieved?
  • How will it appeal to the reasons donors have shared about why they support our organization?

The answers to these questions will guide all of your communications and all the upgrade appeals you send to middle donors.

Of course, you must be specific when ask for an upgrade.

So you let donors know what your organization wants to accomplish, how much it will cost, and how their gift at a certain level will make a difference. 

4. Create a Project Plan for Mid-Level Donors.

Now you have:

  • Data that outlines your mid-donor potential,
  • Feedback from the donors themselves,
  • Some research on your top identified prospects.

NOW . . . . . it’s time for a PLAN.

It’s time to start treating your middle donors like major donors and upgrade their giving.

A basic plan for ANY Mid-Level Donor Program.

1. Assign top mid-level prospects for one-on-one cultivation and solicitation.

2. Review your data often on your mid-donor segments. (there’s always “juicy” potential there!)

3. Send customized communications and upgrade appeals. Send them to segmented donor groups based on steps 2 and 3 above.

4. Create a new mid-level donor recognition program, or expand your existing giving society to include these donors. Then it’s easy to give them special communications, recognition at events, include them in special publications and on website, etc.

5. Find a Matching Gift to help launch your mid-donor program.  A matching gift is easy to solicit.  Donors love seeing their gift multiplied!

5. Work the Plan and Manage Your Time.

Prioritize time for you and your team to execute your mid-donor plan.

To stay organized, I create a weekly work plan that includes the priority tasks to execute all annual development plan activities that must be done.

Anything else that needs to get done that week will have to fit in the open time, or it gets moved back. (You can do this, right??)

Don’t let the busy get in the way of the necessary.

Keep an eye on use of staff time and ROI for your middle donor efforts.

If you can create and effectively manage this kind of plan, it can have a major impact on what your organization can achieve overall.

You’ll develop closer relationships and retention of these important middle donors.

AND you’ll expand your major gift prospect pipeline and gifts.

Bottom Line: What is your middle donor success story? Let us hear what’s worked for you.

Need help planning and implementing a mid-level donor program? Email us, we can help.