10 Effective Strategies to Attract, Engage, and Retain Mid-Level Donors

10 Effective Strategies to Attract, Engage, and Retain Mid-Level Donors

What You'll Learn

Attracting, engaging, and retaining mid-level donors is essential for the financial sustainability and growth of nonprofit organizations. While they are typically a small portion of an organization’s overall donor base, mid-level donors pack a powerful punch – contributing significant revenue, displaying strong retention rates, and having the capacity to provide sustained support. These donors are often sought after by multiple nonprofits, presenting a competitive landscape for organizations to navigate. However, by implementing effective strategies that offer tailored asks for renewal and upgrade and unique opportunities for engagement, nonprofits can position themselves as the preferred choice for mid-level donors for lasting program impact.

Curious about dynamic strategies designed to not only attract mid-level donors to your cause but also to engage them in meaningful ways that foster lasting connections? We have your back. We’ll walk you through how to understand and address the preferences and behaviors of mid-level donors so that your nonprofit can build strong relationships, inspire continued support, and ultimately elevate your fundraising efforts.

1. Brand Your Mid-Level Donor Program:

Branding your mid-level donor program creates awareness, enhances engagement, and fosters a sense of community among donors. It underscores that they are active partners in your mission, encouraging their ongoing support while connecting with like-minded peers. Establishing a standalone identity is a valuable tool to communicate with donors about your values and differentiators, while also sharing more about what they can gain by joining a community of supporters with a deeper investment in your cause. It’s no wonder that 70% of organizations pursue this approach to mid-level giving, recognizing its critical role in building and strengthening donor relationships.

2. Incorporate Thoughtful Opportunities for Insider Access and Recognition:

Most mid-level donors seek engagement and hands-on opportunities to connect with their preferred nonprofit, going beyond a transactional relationship. Engagement opportunities – like sharing open volunteer roles for donors, behind-the-scenes tours, webinars with experts, and more – can add another layer to their relationship with your organization. By offering a program that provides insider access and recognition, your organization not only stands out from the rest but also sets your nonprofit up for future giving opportunities, including legacy commitments.

3. Recognize the Importance of Direct Mail:

Mid-level donors are often acquired through direct mail, which makes it a medium that they are not only comfortable engaging through but may, in fact, prefer. While layering mail with omnichannel communications brings essential value, testing has shown that excluding mid-level audiences from direct mail efforts can lead to a decrease in overall giving. That’s because, in today’s crowded market, mail can be an essential channel for sharing deep, detailed information with donors, unlike other channels like email and text where brevity is a priority.

4. Focus on Upgrading Within the Mid-Level Cohort:

Critically, mid-level can be a feeder for major gifts – but the majority will not have the capacity or inclination to upgrade to the major level. However, they can have a significant impact on your organization’s fundraising efforts through productive engagement at the mid-level! By reorienting your focus to include implementing strategies to upgrade donors within the mid-level range, you can build substantial contributions to your critical programs. Moreover, opportunities have increased through Ai and Machine Learning to better identify donors who could be strong candidates for upgrade, including targeting your ask array, premium or non-premium offers, and specific campaign types to the right people.

5. Create Personal, Human Connections:

If resources allow, designate dedicated donor ambassadors to serve as a direct contact for the mid-level donor in your organization. This lets mid-level donors know that they are privileged partners in your mission. To add an extra personal touch, share the ambassador’s direct contact details (e.g., phone, email) along with a warm and inviting picture to further humanize this connection for donors – almost positioning them as a personal friend who is available to answer questions and share stories of impact. Importantly, research has shown that donors who reach out to their donor ambassadors are more likely to upgrade their giving, making this a great engagement tool that also helps identify your strongest prospects for future increased giving.

6. Leverage Premiums to Bring Donors Closer to Your Mission:

Acknowledging mid-level gifts with tangible rewards can help motivate increased donor contributions.. Avoid generic tokens of appreciation. Instead, reinforce their bond with your organization through mission-aligned gifts of thanks that tell a story and the impact achieved through your programs. For example, a simple tote bag or branded decal is relatively easy to fulfill. And, this thoughtful goodie can achieve dual objectives – showing gratitude and building brand visibility. However, you can achieve an added boost by pairing this with a personalized branded prayer card for a faith-based organization, or a leaf identification guide for a conservation group. Use your gifting imagination to vividly illustrate your mission to donors in their everyday lives!

7. Promote Mid-Level Monthly Giving Options:

Mid-level giving is best defined by cumulative contributions made by a donor throughout the year rather than a single high-bar gift. This donor-centered perspective not only honors an individual’s overall donation to your mission but, also welcomes sustaining donors into your mid-level group. Encouraging mid-level donors to split their payments over the year through monthly giving can lead to higher cumulative donations. This approach can increase the size and revenue of your mid-level program while also improving retention rates, as monthly donors tend to have higher satisfaction and long-term commitment.

8. Highlight Alternative Ways to Give:

Educate donors about alternative giving methods beyond cash donations, including bequests, donor-advised fund (DAF) giving, IRA-qualified charitable distributions, and beneficiary designations. Mid-level donors, who are often financially savvy, may be more inclined to utilize these tools, which means you can gain valuable revenue by promoting new ways to give and successfully expanding your share of donors’ charitable giving wallets. Moreover, when you identify a donor as giving through one of these tools, you can flag them as having a likely higher capacity to give, informing future upgrade targeting.

9. Emphasize Transparency and Impact Reporting:

Mid-level donors make a significant investment in your organization, which warrants keeping them informed about progress and impact. Regularly sharing reports and updates demonstrates their value as mission partners and reinforces their commitment to your work. This can include efforts like impact reporting as part of your mid-level donor benefits. Impact reports can also be used to break up your solicitations through the year – positioning you to make an even stronger case to give when the next ask is presented.

10. Leverage a Strong Mid-Level Program to Re-Engage Major Donors:

For donors who lapse out of a major gift portfolio or show signs of being less responsive, create a re-engage plan within a mid-level program. Past behavior has shown their clear interest and potential, but their disengagement may show that they are less interested in the heavy attention of a major gift program. A robust mid-level program can still offer them rich detail on program impact and highly personalized asks to ensure repeat giving at a level of interaction that is more suited to their current interest levels.

Bringing it all together:
Successfully attracting, engaging, and retaining mid-level donors requires a purposeful and well-thought-out approach. By leveraging opportunities like those outlined above, nonprofits can create tailored and meaningful experiences, amplify donor engagement, and cultivate robust relationships with their mid-level donors. This deliberate approach not only strengthens the connection between donors and the organization but also drives greater support for the nonprofit’s vital programs and initiatives.

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Diana Richardson Marketing Manager
About the author
Diana Richardson
Marketing Manager

Diana Richardson is the Marketing Manager here at Faircom New York. Diana has been a marketer for 20 years, working with a wide range of industries to boost performance and exposure. As the Marketing Manager, she works with nonprofits to optimize Ai and Machine Learning technology to grow philanthropy through highly personalized, next-level direct mail and digital marketing campaigns. She is currently on the board of the Boerne Community Theatre in Texas.

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