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Why Your Mid-Level Donors Aren’t Giving More: Q&A with Maeve Strathy

Mid-level donors are a huge growth opportunity for nonprofits. As some of your most loyal supporters, these are the people who care about your mission and show their support through higher than average gifts.

So why aren’t more small nonprofits growing their mid-level donors? We asked expert Maeve Strathy of What Gives? Philanthropy to share some of her insights with us. (Hear more from Maeve at our upcoming webinar, The Key to Inspiring and Engaging Your Mid-Level Donors.)

Why is it so important to reach out to your middle donors? 

Maeve Strathy: Reaching out to your mid-level donors is so important because they want you to reach out to them. They are showing you – through significantly higher than average gifts – that they want to engage with you in a deeper way, but that you haven’t given them the opportunity. It’s all about meeting donor needs, and mid-level donors need to be engaged and inspired more than they are now. Reaching out to them in a special way is what you need to do to start a new journey with them. But if that’s too warm and fuzzy for you, it’s important to reach out to mid-level donors, too, because more engagement means more donation dollars.

Why don’t more small nonprofits reach out more to their middle-donors? 

MS: Small non-profits have many obstacles in the way of them reaching out more to mid-level donors. For many non-profits – big and small – it’s an issue of not knowing what the needs of mid-level donors are or how to meet them. Our annual giving programs are well-oiled, and our major gifts teams know exactly what they’re doing, but mid-level, for many, is a relatively new frontier. We don’t know where to start. The other big obstacle, especially for small non-profits, is resources. Money, yes, because growing a mid-level program requires an investment. But also human resources; the best mid-level programs are the best because they have at least one, dedicated, full-time employee focused on them. So many non-profits have just one fundraiser for everything, so having a dedicated person is basically impossible.

What is one actionable thing you would tell a small nonprofit to do if they want to grow their mid-level donors? 

MS: Even with these obstacles, there are things you can do. Here’s one actionable thing you can do to grow your mid-level donor base and revenue — augment your direct mail program, even slightly, for those you would classify as mid-level donors. Put their letter in a closed envelope with their name and address handwritten on the front. Or, add a small handwritten note to their package acknowledging their generous support and thanking them. One small change to make them feel special when they receive their next direct mail appeal will go a LONG way. And it’s relatively cheap and actionable, and will start their journey in the right direction.

What else can you do to grow mid-level giving? Check out our upcoming webinar with Maeve, The Key to Inspiring and Engaging Your Mid-Level Donors. Click here to save your seat.


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