Maximizing Impact and Engagement with Mid-Level Donors


What You'll Learn

As nonprofits continue to adapt and evolve in response to complex economic landscapes, we know that mid-level giving segments will remain a vital source of sustainable support. Mid-level donors, who often have higher capacities to give combined with greater charitable propensity, present an excellent opportunity for nonprofits to cultivate deeper connections and foster continuous, lasting philanthropy that can drive ongoing growth and impact. As we strategize about how to best engage with these valuable nonprofit partners, our team at Faircom focuses on three key areas that we see as essential to developing donor loyalty and investment. 

Substantive, Detail-Oriented Communications

Mid-level donors have made an intentional choice to donate to nonprofit missions at a higher level – which often means not simply having an emotional response to give because of a powerful story, but in fact weighing deeper, intellectual considerations about the impact of a particular programmatic investment. They have identified a unique, pressing need in the community, and they elect to act through a nonprofit partner to address it. That is a significant act of trust – and nonprofits should honor the confidence that donors place in them by delivering more substantive, detail-oriented communications. Because mid-level donors possess the capacity to make significant contributions and take the next step to act through giving to make change, it is natural that they seek a deeper understanding of how their investment creates a tangible impact in line with the organization’s mission. 

Instead of generic newsletters and one-size-fits-all updates, nonprofits should craft tailored communications as much as segmentation and personalization are possible. Print versioning is important but also needs to be managed closely for costs, but nonprofits can also tap into digital tactics that allow for more finely segmented communications at a lower price point. The Faircom team also strongly encourages identifying and investing in dialogue channels, like outbound telemarketing for stewardship or donor ambassadors for key mid-level segments to introduce relationship management by phone, video, and one-to-one communications. 

The possibilities for investment will vary by organization, but in all cases, it is critical that nonprofits speak to mid-level donors as insiders in sharing specific needs for funding, achievements attained because of their generosity, and the potential impact of future contributions. Presenting concrete examples of how past donations have facilitated transformative change adds credibility and builds trust, which is at the heart of lasting, sustainable relationships. This approach also helps mid-level donors connect more deeply to the cause, which helps them understand their impact while making a compelling case to continue or increase their giving.

Emphasizing Alternative Giving Methods

Because mid-level donors often have greater financial means, they may be more likely than your average donor to tap into sophisticated financial tools. This can indicate increased openness or access to alternative giving methods beyond traditional cash donations. For this reason, as nonprofits engage with mid-level donors, they can benefit tremendously from promoting alternative ways of giving, such as non-cash contributions and donor-advised funds (DAFs). 

Non-cash giving relates to things like donating appreciated securities or real estate, which provides tax benefits for donors while allowing them to leverage assets to make more substantial contributions. This is important for nonprofits to consider because in fact, approximately 90% of wealth – or more! – is held in non-cash assets. And, non-cash giving is attractive and useful for donors and nonprofits in two key ways: 

  1. Tax benefits for non-cash giving can be particularly advantageous for donors because they can avoid capital gains taxes when assets are transferred, deduct the value of the assets at fair market value (up to 30% of their adjusted gross income), and maintain the option to carry forward any unused deduction for up to 5 years. 
  2. Non-cash asset contributions can also be more resilient at times than cash giving – because assets have typically been held over a longer period, and therefore their value will have appreciated over that timeframe. If donors have robust portfolios, they may also utilize the services of financial planners who will be there advising donors when non-cash asset moves should be leveraged for tax advantages. 

In line with this, donors of means are more likely to have established alternative giving vehicles like DAFs as a means of managing their philanthropic planning. These accounts continue to grow in popularity, and they are likely to be a favorite tool for mid-level and major donors in the coming years. However, as fundraisers are likely to repeat, you only get the gifts that you ask for – and continuing to remind donors of a nonprofit’s capacity to receive DAF contributions is important to unlocking this valuable revenue stream.

Leveraging Virtual Engagement Tools

The COVID-19 pandemic forced tremendous innovation in all fields, and the nonprofit sector was no exception. For example, we know from conversations with major gift teams that adaptation to virtual engagement was a valuable resource to maintaining relationships with donors in their portfolios at a distance. Now that these tools are “out of the box”, they are unlikely to disappear – and we should continue to harness virtual engagement strategies to reach a broader audience of mid-level donors more meaningfully and efficiently. 

Virtual events, webinars, and interactive online platforms allow nonprofits to bring donors “inside” an organization’s mission and programs without the necessity of in-person meetings and long-distance travel. Utilizing these tools, nonprofits can effectively showcase their work, demonstrate transparency, and establish a sense of community, even with donors who may reside far away. 

Moreover, personalized and creative approaches that proved successful in major gift fundraising during the pandemic can be adapted to appeal to mid-level donors. Tailoring virtual interactions to suit individual interests and preferences demonstrates that the organization values each donor’s unique contribution, fostering stronger connections and inspiring ongoing support. 

Take Mid-Level Donor Relationships to the Next Level 

Mid-level donors are a powerful force in the nonprofit landscape, and their might can be effectively harnessed by organizations if they create meaningful avenues for sustained relationships and giving. The triad of opportunities outlined above – delivering substantive communications, highlighting alternative giving methods, and leveraging virtual engagement tools – are just a few ways that nonprofits can maximize the potential of mid-level donors to further their missions and create positive change in the world. 

The impacts of inflation and the economy have our sector on edge – and recent trends in giving have further complicated strategic development planning as nonprofits are asking themselves if American philanthropy is on the decline. However, we can continue to promote charitable intent and generosity as the landscape evolves, nurture trusting relationships with mission-driven audiences, and adapt to donor preferences to facilitate lasting connections. By making mid-level donors feel valued and engaged, nonprofits can build a community of loyal supporters who are dedicated to advancing their shared vision of a better, more compassionate world. 

Lindsay Long
About the author
Lindsay Marino Long
Associate Vice President of Global Philanthropy

Lindsay Marino Long joined Faircom in 2014, having previously worked for the Nobel Prize- and Hilton Humanitarian Award-winning organization Humanity & Inclusion (formerly Handicap International). As Associate Vice President, she leads teams in development audits, strategic planning, and engagement strategies to strengthen pipelines for mid-level and major giving. Lindsay also develops and executes trainings for nonprofit boards and staff, and she is a trusted presenter on trends and learnings in the global philanthropic landscape. Outside of the office, Lindsay is a Trustee of Amber Charter Schools, the first Latino founded and led charter network in New York City, where she chairs the Development Committee. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in geography and economics from McGill University in Montréal. 

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