If you’re like most nonprofits, the majority of your donors give less than $1,000 a year. But a small group of dedicated givers—your midlevel donors—Account for a disproportionately large share of your fundraising totals. In 2020, for example, gifts from donors who gave $1,000 to $9,999 accounted for nearly 34% of all charitable giving in the U.S., yet these same donors represented just 7% of all American households that give to charity.
With numbers like these, it’s no wonder that organizations are eager to find ways to better engage and retain their midlevel donors. But what’s the best way to go about doing this?
1. Keep Them Informed
One way to nurture your midlevel donors is to keep them informed about your organization’s work. Send them periodic updates on your progress and let them know how their contributions are making a difference. Depending on their level of interest, you can also invite them to special events or behind-the-scenes gatherings. Keeping your midlevel donors in the loop will help them feel invested in your work and encourage them to continue their support.
Use a variety of communication channels.
The first step in keeping your donors informed is using a variety of communication channels. This way, you can reach people where they’re most comfortable. Some people might prefer to receive updates via email, while others might prefer social media or even face-to-face meetings. The important thing is to offer multiple options and let your donors choose the ones that work best for them.
Make it personal.
Nobody likes feeling like they’re just another name on a list. So when you’re reaching out to your donors, make sure to personalize your communications as much as possible. Use their name, reference previous conversations you’ve had, and make it clear that you remember who they are and what they care about.
Share stories and impact reports.
Your donors want to know how their money is being used and what impact it’s having. So make sure to keep them updated with regular stories and impact reports. Share successes and challenges, be transparent about where things are going well and where there’s still room for improvement, and show them how their donations are making a difference in the lives of the people your organization serves.
Keep it concise.
Nobody has time to read a novel, so make sure to keep your communications concise and to the point. Get straight to the point, share only the information that’s most relevant, and don’t be afraid to use bullet points or other formatting features to make things easier to read (and skim).
2. Say Thank You—and Mean It!
When a midlevel donor makes a contribution, be sure to send a personalized thank-you note expressing your appreciation. This is an opportunity to build rapport and strengthen your relationship with the donor. Be genuine in your thanks and let the donor know how much their support means to you and your organization. A sincere thank-you goes a long way toward cultivating loyalty among your midlevel donors.
Create a personalized thank-you video.
A quick video message from a staff member or Board member is a great way to show your mid-level donors that you appreciate their support. Be sure to personalize the video for each donor, and make it specific to their level of giving. For example, if a donor has given $500, you might say something like “Thank you for your generous gift of $500. Your support is critical to our success and we can’t thank you enough.” This will not only make the donor feel appreciated, but it will also encourage them to continue supporting your cause in the future.
Send a handwritten thank-you note.
In today’s digital world, hand-written letters are becoming increasingly rare—which makes them all the more special. So take some time to sit down and write a personal thank-you note to each of your mid-level donors. Be sure to mention something specific about their contribution, and explain how their donation is making an impact. This will show the donor that you took the time to read their name and think about their gift, and it will deepen their connection to your cause.
Offer exclusive experiences or behind-the-scenes access.
Everyone loves feeling like an insider, so take advantage of this by offering your mid-level donors exclusive experiences or access to behind-the-scenes information about your organization. For example, you might invite them to attend a VIP reception before one of your events, or give them a tour of your facilities so they can see firsthand how their donation is being used. These types of experiences will not only make your mid-level donors feel appreciated, but they’ll also help deepen their connection to your cause—which could lead to increased giving down the road.
3. Get Personal
With online giving comes the risk of losing the personal touch. Make sure you don’t fall into this trap with your midlevel donors by taking the time to get to know them as individuals. Learn about their interests, hobbies, and background so you can tailor your communications accordingly. The better you know your donors, the more likely they are to feel valued and appreciated— two essential ingredients for maintaining a strong relationship.
Get to know them on a personal level.
If you want to build a deeper relationship with someone, it’s important to get to know them on a personal level. When you’re cultivating a relationship with a mid-level donor, take the time to learn about their personal interests, family, and challenges they may be facing in their business or personal life. The more you know about them as a person, the easier it will be for you to connect with them on a deeper level. Additionally, when you take the time to get to know your donors on a personal level, they’ll be more likely to feel appreciated and valued, which will encourage them to continue supporting your cause.
Get creative with your touchpoints.
In addition to meeting with potential donors in person, there are other ways to create meaningful connections. Try hosting small events or dinners specifically for mid-level donors, or start a giving society where members enjoy exclusive benefits like VIP access to events or unique experiences related to your work. You can also reach out through snail mail or start a telephone or email campaign specifically tailored to this group of supporters.
Keep them informed about how their donations are being used.
Your mid-level donors want to know that their money is being used wisely and that their contributions are making a difference. One way you can deepen your relationship with these donors is by keeping them informed about how their donations are being used. Send them regular updates and report back on the progress of any projects or initiatives they’ve supported. When they see the tangible impact their contributions are making, they’ll be encouraged to keep supporting your organization.
4. Encourage Peer-to-Peer Engagement
Another way to cultivate loyalty among your midlevel donors is to encourage peer-to-peer engagement. This means involving them in activities such as introducing new members to your organization or encouraging others to give at their level. When midlevel donors feel like they’re playing an active role in supporting your work, they’re more likely to maintain their involvement (and even increase their level of giving) over time.
Implement giving circles or affinity groups.
Giving circles or affinity groups are another great way for mid-level donors to connect with each other while also supporting your organization’s work. Giving circles are typically small groups of individuals who pool their resources and decide collectively where their money will go – often times, they’ll choose to support a specific cause or nonprofit organization like yours! Affinity groups are similar, but they’re typically based around shared interests. If you don’t already have giving circles or affinity groups in place at your organization, now is the time to start implementing them!
Encourage social media engagement.
Social media is a great way for mid-level donors to connect with each other and stay up-to-date on your organization’s work. Make sure you’re utilizing social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to further engage with your donor base. Encourage mid-level donors to follow and share your posts, or even start their own fundraising campaigns on behalf of your organization. Social media is a powerful tool – use it to your advantage!
5. Give Them Opportunities to Get Involved
One of the best ways to keep your midlevel donors engaged is to give them opportunities to get more involved with your organization. This could be anything from volunteering at events to serving on a committee or task force. The key is to give them a way to connect with your cause on a deeper level.
Not all mid-level donors are interested in the same level of involvement. Some may want to be more hands-on while others may prefer a more passive role. By offering multiple levels of involvement, you can make sure that there is something for everyone. This could include anything from volunteer opportunities to leadership roles on committees or boards. The key is to offer a variety of options so that donors can choose what works best for them. Getting donors involved is a key way to increase midlevel retention.
6. Seek Their Feedback
Show your midlevel donors that you value their input by regularly seeking their feedback on your programs, initiatives, and even this blog post! Not only will this help you improve your programs and better understand their needs, but it will also show them that you view them as partners in the work you’re doing—not just as dollars signs.
One of the best ways to engage mid-level donors is simply to ask for their input—on everything from what types of events they’d like to see, to what kinds of communications they prefer (email, phone calls, mailings, etc.), to what issues they’re passionate about. By involving them in the decision making process, you’ll not only deepen their engagement with your organization, but also glean valuable insights that will help you better serve your mission.
As any fundraiser knows, acquiring new donors is only half the battle; retaining them is where the real challenge lies. And nowhere is this more true than with midlevel donors. These dedicated givers provide a disproportionately large share of funding for most nonprofits, which is why it’s so important to find ways to keep them engaged and invested in your mission. It’s important to understand your midlevel donor metrics and what you can do to improve them.
The good news is that there are a number of proven strategies you can use to nurture your midlevel donors and keep them coming back year after year. By focusing on their experience, staying in regular communication, and making it easy for them to give, you can ensure their continued support for years to come.