Don’t Let Mid-Level Donors Slip By: Ask These Key Questions



They say that if you want to stop hearing from a charity, just donate $1,000. Despite the joke, nonprofits often have strategies for major donors and annual giving donors but can miss a strategy for what happens in between.

While mid-level donors only account for a small percent of your overall donor base, they can make up 30 or 35 percent of your revenue. In this post, we’ll walk you through some key questions you need to ask as a team to identify and leverage mid-level donor profiles.

  1. Who are my mid-level donors?

This is a question that may have a different answer depending on your nonprofit’s size, donor base, and staff complement. 

For example, your organization may only have one development officer, so making room for a different strategy is daunting, narrowing the size of what you might consider mid-level. On the other hand, you may be an organization that has many major gift officers, and are willing to devote someone to focus on the subsection of donors who don’t quite qualify for being a part of a major donor portfolio.

The simplest answer to this is, mid-level donors are the group of people who aren’t major gift prospects but whose giving pattern suggests that they require a more personalized approach than the typical mass marketing mix of annual giving, donor surveys, and newsletters. Start by identifying a group from your portfolio that you can reasonably set aside time to reach out to and expand from there. 

  1. Are mid-level donors just my next major donors?

Not necessarily. The purpose of a mid-level program should not just be to put donors in the pipeline for major gifts. Just because someone will give you more money than a typical donor does not mean they are, or ever will be, a major donor. This is why it is important to have a mid-level giving officer – so they can answer this question on a donor by donor basis. 

A mid-level giving officer serves two roles within the organization. First, they become the nonprofit’s ambassador. The gift officer is now the donor’s go-to person at the organization – a familiar name that creates a more personal connection.

Second, the gift officer learns more about the donor to ensure that the donor is solicited in the most optimal way. If that person is ready to become a major donor soon, the mid-level officer can identify that. If that person is on a fixed income and just loves your nonprofit, they can help that donor become a monthly donor or find ways to introduce them to planned giving. 

  1. How do you learn more about your mid-level donors?

You need to invest time by talking to your donors.

This means phone calls. Personal emails. Keep in mind that these won’t be contacts at the same level as what a major giving officer might do. These are quick touch points to build familiarity.

You do not have to ask them everything all at once either. Much like you don’t show up to a first date with a 200-question survey, you should not expect mid-level donors to suddenly tell them everything about you. However, you can start to figure out why they support your nonprofit, how they like to give, whether they want more information, etc.

It will be these questions that help you figure out who they are, how they want to give, and what the best approach to soliciting them is.

  1. How do you build a case for support?

If mid-level are not quite mass market, but not quite major donors, what do you do for a case for support?

First, unless you have good reason to, do not remove these donors from your mailing lists. Just because you are engaging with them more personally does not mean they should not receive typical solicitations – after all, they are likely what got them to this point in the first place.

You also do not need to treat them quite like major donors. While you are still following a typical qualification – cultivation – solicitation – stewardship approach, the cases for support do not necessarily need to be extensive. If anything, you can create a number of cases for support in general and choose which one(s) would work best for that particular donor – that is, if they even need one.

This is why learning about your mid-level donors is the key component. You can better understand the best approach and solicit them in a way that works best for your team in terms of time commitment, and how they are likely to respond.

  1. What do you do when the donor stops giving?

Sometimes you’ll put in all the work, only to find that donors either won’t give, or downgrade, or won’t change their giving habits at all. 

Remember, this is about the relationship, not the next gift. When we look at lapsed donors, the easiest ones to recover are always the ones who have had the most extensive relationships with the organization, not just in giving but in other forms of engagement.

A call every six months to check in, continuing to inform them about what’s going on, continuing to ask them about how they’re doing – these 5-10 minute tasks every few months can be the difference between being able to recover the donor longer term and losing them entirely. 

You may never know how much attrition you prevent by building these relationships. Even if the donor downgrades, it may be more because of a personal situation than anything about you or your organization. However, in this case, the decision to engage with the donor helps in retaining them rather than losing them altogether.

Attract Mid-Level Donors With Wisely

While getting your mid-size donors into the funnel may seem challenging, there are tons of resources to help you navigate it. Wisely’s courses are designed to help nonprofit professionals fill the gap between where you currently are and where you want to be with your fundraising goals.Check out our FREE two part Mid-Level Giving course that is designed to help you succeed in developing your mid-level giving program.

At Wisely, we’ve helped several organizations build their mid-level donor strategy from scratch. If your Nonprofit has been struggling with attracting or retaining donors at any level, it is time for us to talk. Let us help you design a strategy that works best for you!

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