Middle donors are often treated like middle children. They are the loyal, dependable donors who get overlooked because they aren’t the high maintenance major donors and they aren’t the shiny new donors who need our attention.
Fundraisers have taken notice of these highly valuable donors and found a veritable goldmine of committed supporters willing to increase their giving, become major donors and provide a feeder for planned gifts. Analysis has shown that middle donors often account for only 1 percent or 2 percent of the donors and yet they generate up to 30 percent of the annual revenue. As donors become accustomed to a higher-touch experience, fundraisers need to rebuild programs to keep middle donors motivated and engaged:
- Craig DePole from Newport One, Mark Rovner from Sea Change Strategies and Anna Brey from Best Friends Animal Society provided some key take-aways for how to rebuild your middle donor program to maximize its effectiveness and long term revenue growth:
- Understand the purpose. The purpose of a middle donor program for the charity is to create a pool of major donor prospects and to identify a tier for higher value donors. The purpose of a middle donor program is to create a better experience with the charity with the goal of building loyalty and connection to the mission.
- Communication is the critical component. Develop a series of targeted communications that balance updates about the donor’s impact with invitations to special events and regular solicitations.
- Be authentic. Interact with these donors in casual one-off communications around the mission as much as possible. Use technology and sophisticated production tools to simulate the personal emails and handwritten notes for the middle donor audience that are often reserved for major donors.
- Create experiences. Create opportunities for the middle donor to experience the organization’s work firsthand. Schedule Discovery Weekends, Symposiums or special Hands-on Days and invite middle donors to attend. You’ll be surprised how many middle donors will come from far and wide to participate in something special and unique for a cause they love.
- Dedicate a staff person(s) to this group. The value of middle donors warrants the extra time and attention from a staff person. It also allows the donor to build a personal connection with an individual. Organizations that have committed the resources for additional attention have seen the direct pay off in increased revenue from these most loyal donors.