Five Takeaways on Mid-Level Donors

5 Tips Mid-Level-Blog

What You'll Learn

Written by Agathe Sarran

Faircom New York and Faircom Paris have been ramping up their mid-level strategic positioning and campaign execution as a result of two major factors in the industry:

  1.  An increasing trend of donors focusing their giving—i.e. giving greater amounts to fewer charities in an effort to make a greater impact.
  2. A loss of revenues associated with donor attrition that necessitates an alternative strategy whose goal is to increase specifically revenue per donor.

The US has leveraged the mid-level sector more aggressively and for a longer amount of time than France; but France has engaged some very interesting strategies than can be harnessed here.

In an effort to share the turbo-charged learning gained by our trans-atlantic partnership, we invited French fundraising executives to a conference on French and American mid-level strategies in Paris last week. 50 executives came to hear Sally Frank, VP of Business Development at Faircom New York and Corinne Josephides, Director of Faircom Paris, to present their tips and some great case studies.

Here are 5 takeaways from their presentation.

1. Identify your mid-level donors

It can be hard to identify the mid-level donors in your donor base. Do they give between a certain range? Do they represent a certain percentage of donors? The answer is in your data. No two groups will have the same definition of a mid-level donor. As a rule of thumb, we offer a few ways of segmenting them:

  • They typically donate up to 4x the average amount of direct mail donors, and 3x the average as online donors.
  • They give small gifts, yet they match to a high net worth database.
  • Their annual cumulative giving puts them at par with other mid-level donors, even if each gift is relatively small.

2. Optimize your communication

Test different packages and streams of communication to this pool of donors.

  • Use a basic direct mail piece, but hyper-personalize it and put it in a different format, for example, using a much larger closed-faced envelope with hand addressing (or simulated hand addressing)
  • Divide the cohort in two and do a year long test of communications streams alternating asks with pure cultivations vs. the regular stream that you send.
  • Test mid-level targeted packages with aggressive asks:
    • Mini-proposals requesting funding for a specific, but small, project.
    • Special matching gifts to induce upgrading, promising the match only for a gift above a certain level, that level to be greater than the donors’ last gift or most recent annual cumulative giving.
    • Aggressive suggested ask strings on your BRC based on information found through external databases indicating actual giving at a much greater level to other organizations. The donor gave you $50 yet he or she gave $5,000 to a competitor? Go for it. Ask for $500 to begin with.

3. Create commitment

Invite donors to adhere to a special task force by upping their giving, or, invite them to join Giving Circles with names per level of giving related to your mission. Each level should have benefits of membership associated with it. You can also send them Giving Circle branded Friend Cards to make them feel more committed to your mission and your organization.

4. Involve them in your project

Your next mission is to get them involved in the project, by organizing events such as conferences, site visits, breakfasts, etc. Analyze their involvement by setting up a tracking dashboard of your mid-level donors’ communication cycles, which is a good way to follow the relation you have with your donors through the communication plan.

5. Upgrade your donors

Interpret the information gathered in your database, and be sure to follow-up after they take specific action. Thank them for the renewal of their gift or remind them to do so.

It’s very important to treat your mid-level donors uniquely. Think of it this way: an average upgrade of even $20 across 1,000 donors yields $20,000 in extra revenue. Some organizations have several thousand mid-level donors. Focusing on them is worth the investment in time and money.

Questions? Feel free to call! We love to talk about what we do and share tips. You can reach Sally at 212-727-3876 or Corinne at 33-1-

About the author
Faircom New York
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Faircom New York is an award-winning nonprofit marketing agency composed of passionate, humanitarian and fundraising professionals who work with your nonprofit team to raise funds at every donor level and through every channel of giving.

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