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June 29, 2017

The Secret Behind the Care & Feeding of Mid-Level Donors

In earlier posts, we have shared the dynamics of successful mid-level donor (MLD) programs:

  • The importance of One-to-Some attention, with a specialized calendar of multichannel contact points, including phone.
  • The importance of a robust and personal thank-you process.
  • The transitional “tipping point” at which mid-level donors approach transformational gift-giving.
  • The value that mid-level donors place on the opportunity to provide feedback to the organization.
  • The metrics to measure the success of your mid-level donor program.

But who exactly are these donors?

Unlike most general population donors, mid-level donors enjoy a seasoned, informed relationship with your mission. Generally, they are long past reactive “point-of-purchase” giving. They are motivated by more than just a purely emotional response to need.

They continue to resonate with your mission, of course, but they also have embraced your brand and assume that their support will be responsibly applied. They are comfortable with the way you steward their gifts, knowing that you will use their money to create the greatest impact on the problem that moves them — and that your mission addresses.

In short, you are relevant to them. And hopefully, you’ve made them understand they are relevant to you.

But relevance and stewardship alone are not enough.

By themselves, they will not stimulate increased net revenues, nor will they automatically move donors toward the “tipping point” of transformational major gifts or bequests. 

Along with clearly seeing demonstrable evidence of their financial impact, mid-level donors need something: the gratification that comes from their engagement with you.

It is this sense of gratification that requires special cultivation.



Cultivating Mid-Level Donors

Research confirms that the long-term value of MLDs dramatically increases when their value to the organization is occasionally affirmed without an automatic appeal for financial support. How best to affect this affirmation?

There’s a surprisingly simple answer: Listen to them.

What do mid-level donors sound like?

One of the benefits of driving an active One-to-Some, phone-based contact strategy is continued access to verbatims from your donors. They contain rich contexts for the individual philanthropic motivations that MLDs bring to the table. The following (very real) quotes shine a bright light on individual giving motivations.

Some see great value in the organization:

  • “I love [Organization] because they use the money for the causes they say and not for administrative costs ...”
  • “I love the mission of [Organization] and continue to support because of your high rating with Charity Navigator …

Some reveal their own, unique “donor strategy”:

  • “I try to support charities that do good work and use the funds the way they should be used. So many of them don’t …”
  • “My family and I give because we feel the need to help support children …”

And some share incredibly rich personal connections:

  • “My family and I lived under communist rule and had everything taken away. We were left to starve. Since coming to America, we have been blessed. We feel that it is God’s will for us to give …”
  • “I have been giving for over 60 years. I started giving after I was drafted into the Army. [Organization] gave all of us a shaving kit and blessings …”


Accelerating the Donor Journey

Cataloging these verbatims and mapping your subsequent communications accordingly will convince these precious donors that you actually listen to them, that you care about them personally, and that they are involved in a two-way relationship with your organization.

When they begin characterizing their engagement with you as a dialogue with an organization that cares about them personally, they will be far more likely to respond by using their philanthropy to deepen their relationship. In this way, they will naturally accelerate their journey toward transformational giving. 


Click HERE to check out our free fundraising white paper to learn how to single out, engage, and cultivate your most important audience segment — mid-level donors.


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