The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

3 Reasons to Develop a Middle Donor Program

The word “middle” doesn’t always have the best connotation. From having “middle child syndrome” to being “middle of the road,” this word’s often associated with those things that are unfavorable or just plain innocuous.

Another middle to add to this list is “middle donors.” These are the people who give your organization more than a typical annual gift, but not enough to warrant personal attention as a major gift prospect. Depending on your organization, those gifts can range anywhere from $500 to $50,000. It can be tricky to find the right balance of outreach and attention for this group of supporters, but I think it’s worth the time and effort to find that balance.

Think about it this way: we all know the ubiquitous gift pyramid. Its design is based on perfect symmetry and alignment. Those middle stones are integral to the stability of the pyramid. That’s why developing a middle donor strategy is time well spent.

There are three reasons why your organization should consider developing a middle donor program:

  1. Today’s Middle Donors = Tomorrow’s Major Donors? This group of donors is your pipeline to your future major gift donors. If you don’t have a donor giving circle, this is a good place to start. And if you do have some higher annual fund giving society, you are on the right track! A giving circle recognizes the higher annual investment of these donors by allowing them special access to your work through invitation-only events or special publications. Building those relationships now could lead to bigger donations in the future.
  1. They Are A Valuable Source of Regular Revenue: While every middle donor is not going to become a major gift prospect or donor, these donors have self-selected a higher level annual gift to your organization with relatively little effort. Retention rates among this donor group are usually higher than with smaller donors. So, just think about what potential may exist for increased annual revenue with a little more personalized level of communication about your work and special opportunities that deepen their connection.
  1. Inspire Others to Give More: Developing and promoting a middle donor program also gives smaller donors an incentive to upgrade their own giving. For some donors, knowing that they will get a distinct set of “benefits” and recognition in your annual report, on your website, and in other ways with a slightly bigger annual gift may just be the incentive they need to commit to a larger level of support.

A middle donor program should feature manageable “benefits” for donors that celebrate their support at this level and provide them with special “access” to your leaders and programs. You also want to combine a higher-level communications calendar of electronic and print materials with some staff management.

Your development staff who manage this program (can be one or two people depending on the size of the donors in this giving level), will be handle a larger portfolio of donors than their major gift colleagues. So they won’t be able to develop a personal relationship with every donor in this group. But they will prioritize the middle donors, make or coordinate personal solicitations for larger annual gifts, and capacity screen these donors to recommend who might be good major gift donor potential. This program is also a good way to involve volunteers who give at this level. You might think of appointing a chair and/or small (emphasis on small) committee whose charge is to solicit other middle donors to encourage the peer-to-peer solicitations.

I think you’ll be amazed what a wonderful investment a middle donor program can be for your organization’s fundraising efforts.

 

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About This Blog

Linda Lombardi
Content Manager

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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