Are You Ignoring Your Mid-Level Donors?

May 22, 2018 - by Lynsey Gallagher

Mid-level donors can be the “middle child” in the fundraising family. Oftentimes, you know who your major donors are — you’re busy cultivating them and making asks. And you’re mailing to your rank-and-file direct mail donors, who are the majority of your supporters.
 
But what about your mid-level donors? All too often, they’re ignored and not given any special treatment. But with the right messaging and techniques, you can usher these donors to higher levels of support.
 
Upgrades are a key part to any robust fundraising program, and one key way to upgrade your donors is to create a mid-level giving program. But first, you need to decide what “mid-level” means for your program. For some organizations, mid-level means donors at the $250-$999 level, while for others, mid-level means gifts of $1,000-$5,000. Regardless of the giving threshold, the key to growing this program is getting to know your donors better and finding the messaging that will help move that giving needle. 
 
After identifying who should be considered for a mid-level upgrade, it’s time to capitalize on proven best practices for increased giving. 
 
1. Make becoming part of the mid-level program an option for more donors
The case for upgrades should be woven throughout all renewals and appeals. While those campaigns may not have a targeted ask for upgraded support, the seed should be planted so that they have the opportunity to give more if they choose.
 
2. Illustrate how leadership level gifts move your work forward
For Meals on Wheels, in particular, it may not be obvious to donors how a larger gift can impact your work. A mid-level ask gives you the opportunity to paint a clear picture of what a larger gift will help do. For example, a gift of $200 will provide six meals — but a gift of $500 will provide meals, home repair services, outreach, and much more. Outlining strategic goals for the year will also help put the continued work into context. 
 
3. Tell stories
The more emotionally connected the donor is, the better! An upgrade mailing is a great place for your Executive Director to tell a heartfelt story of a recipient who was helped by Meals on Wheels. Focusing on a specific person and showing the tangible difference your program made will help the donor understand the true impact of their gift — and just how meaningful it is.
 
4. Spend money, but do it wisely
Mid-level donors are making a real investment in your organization when they decide to increase their giving, so you should be investing in them as well. While the messaging for upgrades is the most important part, the look of the package is also important. Using a slightly larger envelope with a first-class stamp and a handwritten name and address can be highly effective. Including your Executive Director’s business card in the package also adds a personal, high-touch element that conveys the seriousness of your request. 
 
5. Make them feel like insiders
Offering this special group insider benefits, like quarterly calls with the Board or Executive Director, discount tickets to events, and even exclusive donor reports, will help set them apart from lower dollar donors. “Insider access” is what many donors are seeking. They care about your organization and are demonstrating their deeper commitment with the level of their gift. Show them that you value their support by offering them this access.  
 
6. One last question to consider
One question many fundraisers ask is: “Do I need to create a special ‘giving society’ to recognize my mid-level donors?” The truth is — the answer is different for each organization. Some groups launch special giving societies for gifts at a set level (say $500 and up), with a name such as “President’s Circle” or “Kitchen Cabinet.” They can be a great way to recognize your donors. But in our experience, that may not be necessary. Often simply making a strong case for increased support, demonstrating the impact of the larger gift, and using language like “leadership gift” is enough to motivate the donor who gave $250 to consider giving $500, $1,000, or more.
 
Need help with your mid-level donors? We can help! Email us to find out more.
Have a success story to share? We’d love to hear it. Email us to share!