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October 5, 2020

Mid-Level Donors: A Fundraiser’s Best Friend


How many really close friends do you have in your life?

While there is no “right” number, a study published in Psychology Today indicates the average adult has somewhere between 3 and 5 close friends.

Close friends are your “go-tos,” those you trust with the intimate details of your life. Your relationships with close friends tend to be transformational for both of you in that they are based on a level of commitment well beyond an occasional touch-base.

While we may not receive too many middle-of-the-night phone calls from our donors, it’s not a stretch to say that our mid-level supporters are the closest thing to “close friends” we have as fundraisers. They are our go-tos and we can rely on them, especially when crisis hits and we really need their support and commitment.


But here are some important questions, ones we need to be honest in answering: Do we really know who our mid-level donors are as people? Are we as fundraisers worthy of the close relationship we desire or claim to have with them? And are these relationships transformational? Or would transactional be more accurate?


Just like close friends, mid-level donors are incredibly valuable.


How is your relationship with your mid-level donors? Not their relationship with you, but rather your relationship with them. Do you know these mid-level donors as well as you should? How often do you connect? Do you ever just call to chat without asking for a favor (or gift in this instance)? Close, transformational relationships require real work, and asking thoughtful questions of mid-level donors is an important component. Questions like:

  • When did you first hear about our organization?
  • What drew you to support us in the first place?
  • What aspect of our mission do you have the greatest heart for?
  • Have you or a loved one been personally impacted by [MISSION]?
  • Are there certain parts of the [CITY, STATE, COUNTRY, OR WORLD] that are especially important to you?
  • Do you have friends or family members that feel similarly about these issues?


The telephone is an ideal method for posing these questions. The strongest, most tenured members of your Donor Services Team (or trusted phone channel partner) are likely best suited to engage with a portfolio of mid-level donors in this way. During the COVID-19 pandemic, call contact rates have consistently been especially high, so now is an ideal time to leverage the phone. For donors that can’t be reached by phone, highly personalized emails and digital surveys can serve as capable substitutes.

Demonstrating that you’ve listened and providing a more personalized donor experience helps build or deepen your organization’s relationship with each donor. Sending them a handwritten note as a “Thank You” for a recent conversation goes a long way. Or forwarding an impact report that’s focused on the aspect of your mission or geographic region that they’ve identified as important for them. Or personally inviting them to an online event or virtual town hall that allows them to engage more and ask questions.


Perhaps what matters most is that your mid-level donors sense your organization’s sincerity and the consistent, proactive steps you are taking to build and strengthen the relationship. After all, isn’t that what a close friend is supposed to do?

Tag(s): Mid-Level

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