When it comes to donor engagement, you probably spend a lot of time reading about how to build relationships with your large donors or how to turn small donors into recurring contributors. But this approach tends to leave out one of the most important groups in your nonprofit’s donor base: mid-level donors. 

While mid-level donors may only make up 5% to 10% of your nonprofit’s donor base, their contributions can amount to nearly half of your organization’s revenue! 

In short, mid-level donors play an essential role in supporting your nonprofit, so you don’t want to lose out on their engagement. Plus, it’s possible for mid-level donors to turn into major donors, so long as you put effort into cultivating a meaningful relationship. Here are some tips to more effectively engage your mid-level donors: 

  • Get to know your mid-level donors!
  • Guide them through a donor journey. 
  • Offer mid-level donors benefits. 
  • Plan events with your mid-level donors in mind. 
  • Ask for feedback. 

Going the extra mile to engage your mid-level donors demonstrates that you’re prioritizing their involvement in your nonprofit. These engagement efforts will go a long way to build better, long-term connections.

And here’s a bonus tip: recognizing your donors for their generosity is an essential pillar of donor engagement. This Eleven Fifty Seven guide on donor recognition can help you get started!

Now, let’s take a closer look at these mid-level donor engagement strategies. 

1. Get to know your mid-level donors!

The first step to engaging your mid-level donors is identifying who they are and what engagement strategies might appeal to them. Go beyond the basics (like name or location) and get to know donors on a more personal level. Consider determining the following information for a more holistic view of your mid-level donors: 

  • Demographic information: Learning more about your mid-level donors’ backgrounds can help you understand where they come from and what led them to your organization. For example, maybe they come from a community that was particularly affected by the cause your organization addresses or they represent a younger demographic. Whatever information you ask for, use it to your advantage when you’re picking the ideal marketing channel or determining which messaging would be more effective. 
  • Motivation: Understanding each donor’s motivation to give is essential when designing targeted programming. The reason why a donor chooses to give can tell you a lot about themselves, their potential to become a major giver, and the best way to thank them for their donation.
  • Engagement level: Do your mid-level donors contribute once or multiple times per year? Are they more likely to contribute around Giving Tuesday or the holidays? Have they previously attended events? Identifying your mid-level donors’ varying engagement levels can help you determine which campaigns in which they are most likely to participate.
  • Matching gift eligibility: According to this 360MatchPro resource on matching gifts, an estimated $4-$7 billion in matching gift funds go unclaimed each year. That’s a lot of missed revenue! Determining your mid-level donors’ matching gift eligibility demonstrates that you’re invested in their engagement. Plus, they’ll likely be thrilled to find out that their generous contributions can be matched!

Although it may be time-consuming at first, getting to know your mid-level donors before launching any engagement initiatives ensures that the programs you do invest in are ones that donors will truly enjoy. Additionally, your mid-level donors will appreciate your efforts to get to know them on a deeper level. 

2. Guide them through a donor journey.

Whether your mid-level donors have been contributing for years or just sent off their first donation, you have an opportunity to skillfully guide them through a meaningful donor journey. The donor journey is a step-by-step process that roughly follows how a donor comes to find your organization, decides to donate, and continues to engage. 

The steps of the donor journey include: 

  1. Awareness: This is when the prospect learns about your cause. In the case of recurring donors, you’ll need to continue reminding them of the importance of your cause.
  2. Research: After learning about your cause, the supporter then researches to gather more relevant information. This research phase is critical, as it influences the likelihood of the donation as the donor determines if they can make a difference. 
  3. Decision: The donor decides to give to your nonprofit.
  4. Appreciation: Your nonprofit expresses appreciation of the donor’s generosity. This can come in the form of a thank you note or an annual celebratory event.
  5. Repeat: The process repeats! While recurring donors may not repeat the awareness and research, you will have to work harder to get mid-level donors to continue deciding to give to your organization. That’s where these engagement strategies come in handy.

While each donor might have a slightly different experience, following this loose framework can help you play a bigger role in your donor’s engagement with your nonprofit. For example, if a mid-level donor hasn’t contributed or engaged in a while, you could send them new information about your cause, which could prompt the awareness phase. Doing so can drive donors through the rest of the journey, ending with another donation.

3. Offer mid-level donors benefits.

Another way to engage mid-level donors is by offering them exclusive benefits. Typically, nonprofits tend to focus their membership or rewards programs on major donors, leaving mid-level donors behind. However, by designing benefits specifically for mid-level donors, you signal that their contributions are just as valuable to your organization. 

Consider some of the following benefits for mid-level donors: 

  • Donor recognition: Whether you give social media shoutouts or create a display to recognize your donors, your supporters will enjoy some public recognition for their contributions. 
  • Facility tour: For supporters invested in your cause, a tour of your facility might be the perfect perk of donating. And, a private tour will give your staff a chance to connect with these important donors.  
  • Merchandise: Mid-level donors clearly have a passion for your organization, so why not give them some merchandise to represent your nonprofit? You’ll even get the added benefit of free publicity. 

Your mid-level donors are certainly not contributing to receive an award, but they will be grateful to receive a token of your appreciation. Plus, some of these benefits provide an opportunity for them to learn more about the amazing work that your organization does, which might inspire mid-level donors to become major ones!

4. Plan events with your mid-level donors in mind.

Because you’ve gathered great information about your mid-level donors, you probably have some ideas about events they might enjoy. As you begin planning your nonprofit’s fundraising calendar, be sure to add a couple of events intended just for mid-level donors. Depending on your mid-level donors’ interests, some of these events might include: 

  • Auctions
  • Meet and greets
  • Fun runs 
  • Galas 
  • Golf tournaments 
  • Trivia nights 
  • Talent shows 

Hosting events intended just for mid-level donors gives these donors a chance to connect with one another, strengthening your donor community. This could also be the foundation for a peer-to-peer fundraising event down the line!

Lastly, consider sending a personal invitation to the mid-level donors who you hope will attend. This can be as simple as a handwritten note or a phone call — whatever you can do to show that it would mean a lot to you if they attended. 

5. Ask for feedback. 

Not sure where to go from here? Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback! Asking for feedback is one of the best ways to convey that you care about what your mid-level donors think, especially if you create a survey just for them.

Whether you want to send a paper survey to your mid-level donors or simply add a link on your nonprofit’s website, any type of survey option can give you necessary feedback to make helpful changes. In your survey, you could ask about anything from events that donors would attend to how they think your nonprofit is doing overall. 

It might also be helpful to speak directly with your mid-level donors, particularly those who are already actively involved in your nonprofit’s ongoing fundraising efforts. This way, you can get a sense of what you’re doing right to keep these donors engaged over time while continuing to foster your relationship with these active donors.

Ultimately, these insights can help you adapt your engagement strategy and reach your mid-level donors more effectively. And if you truly take what your mid-level donors share to heart, they will take notice of how you’ve incorporated their feedback to better fit their needs.

Mid-level donors are an essential branch of your nonprofit’s tree of donors, so it’s crucial that you design a specific engagement strategy to keep them involved. Be sure to get to know your donors before planning your strategy so that each initiative feels personalized and relevant to your mid-level donors. 

Not only will engaging your mid-level donors help you build stronger connections with your donor base, but it will also secure necessary funds so you can keep working towards your mission. Good luck!

About the Author

author photo: derrick spitlerDerrick has been referred to as a connoisseur, marketing guru and even a prodigy. 

He began his career with Eleven Fifty Seven as an intern during the Summer of 2019. 

Since then, Derrick has graduated from The Ohio State University and has joined the team full time working in marketing and business development. 

He has grown to love the not-for-profit world by seeing the impact made possible through philanthropy.

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