Fundraisers love major donors. How could we not? They provide the necessary funds to keep our nonprofits running. We also love new donors. Bright, shiny and falling in love with our organization. In many ways, these two types of donors re-affirm our devotion to our job (or volunteer) choice. But, what about those mid-level donors?
I am talking about the donors in that range that gets them noticed above the entry-level gifts of $25 or $50 but not quite close to your major gift level. You diligently thank them each year – maybe even 7 times, but they can be so much more valuable to you. Mid-level donors may be the future of your organization.
Understanding mid-level donors
- Consider why they give that amount. Are they…
- Major donors who use this as an entry-level gift to test your stewardship?
- Giving because a friend—maybe one of your board members—asked them?
- Someone who has just increased to this amount.
- Donating to a specific fund or appeal?
- Do you already know them? Are they…
- Volunteers who are showing their support?
- Event attendees who have started to give additional support?
- Friends and/or family of board members?
- How long have they been giving? This can tell you a lot. Let’s say you consider $200 as a minimum, mid-level gift. If…
- It is a first-time gift (that is not part of crowdfunding or event-related*), this often indicates there is a greater gift potential and that they are testing the water with your nonprofit. Your stewardship and acknowledgement practices will be the reason that person continues to give or does not renew and turns to test another organization.
- this is their second gift, they definitely should be on your radar. Donor retention for the win! They may not be ready for a significant upgrade, but they appreciate you and you should definitely let them know that you appreciate them. They may be your future major donors, long-time supporters, volunteers, board members, etc….
- They have given for 5 or more years. Celebrate them as you would a major donor. 5 years at $200 is a $1,000 donor. And consider whether they are ready for an upgrade beyond the 50%+ that you suggest in your annual appeal letters. Depending on their age, they may be prime prospects for a planned gift. And or a monthly gift.
- Why should you care so much about these donors?
- If you had 20 donors who give $200 for 10 years, that would be $4,000 per year or $40,000 over 10 years – assuming you retained each of those donors with no increase nor decrease. How much work have you put into a $40,000 grant that you didn’t receive? These are people who already want to give to you. Again and again.
- Imagine if you moved 50 or 100 of your entry-level donors into this category in the next two years.
In other words, it’s time to focus on these amazing donors. And once you have identified them and their giving habits, don’t forget to create a plan to deepen their engagement. Work to retain their gifts or upgrade them. And stop treating them like the $25 donors that we like, but don’t know enough about yet. (You should know any donors that have been giving for more than a few years but that is a whole other blog post.) Make them feel special and acknowledge them wherever and whenever you can.
*Crowdfunding and event-related gifts should be treated separately. You have the opportunity to convert some of these donors to life-long supporters, but some will only give because they are asked by a certain person for a one-time gift. Acknowledge and attempt to steward but don’t spend too much time on this group.