Mid-Level Giving Strategies – 5 Ideas to Help You Move Forward

DMW Fundraising: Mid-Level Giving Strategies – 5 Ideas to Help You Move Forward
Date Published
Debbie Merlino

Many organizations that have invested in a strategy for their Mid-Level donors have seen it pay off in higher donor retention rates, upgrades, and significant growth in their major donor feeder pool.

Perhaps you thought about developing strategies for your Mid-Level donors but haven’t started yet because you’re concerned it may take a lot of extra staff time and additional resources to develop a successful program. Don’t worry. Here are 5 ideas that can help…

1)  You Don’t Need a Club to Start Treating Mid-Level Donors Better.

Many organizations don’t have a formal giving club yet, but still treat their Mid-Level donors in some special ways throughout the year. For example, a lot of organizations take 3 or 4 of their regular donor renewals and add some special treatments: closed-face outer envelopes, variable paragraphs that recognize donor loyalty, higher quality paper stock, special “thank-you” notes, and first-class stamps. All of these treatments have proven to be very effective and have helped boost results.

A lot of organizations also send out 1 or 2 “special” appeals each year to Mid-Level donors. These packages are more exclusive and usually highlight a specific need. Matching-gift mailings, urgent request mailings, fiscal-year-end mailings, and 9 x 12 “proposal” packages are all great appeals that have worked well. And these kinds of mailings have really paid off – response rates can be 15% to 20% higher than those for regular mailings to Mid-Level donors.

2)  Use Branded Materials Judiciously.

If you decide to move forward with a branded club this year, don’t assume that you have to use the club’s special stationery every time you communicate with your Mid-Level donors. You can easily run a successful Mid-Level program by sending out just 1 or 2 renewal appeals a year that include the club branding. The other appeals these donors receive can be the same mailings as those for the regular donors, but with some of the specialized treatments mentioned above.

3)  Select Benefits Carefully.

For many organizations, a barrier to starting a Mid-Level program is dealing with the resources and systems needed to fulfill any benefits. You can keep costs to a minimum by including as benefits some of the communications that donors are already scheduled to receive. Benefits like newsletters, progress updates, quarterly reports, and invitations to special events may be already be in the mail schedule and don’t involve extra costs. Some organizations also reduce costs by offering intangible benefits. These benefits aren’t premiums (like coffee mugs or calendars); instead they include having the donor’s name listed on an annual report or on a special recognition page on the web site.

4)  Don’t Make Big Changes to Your Acknowledgments Just Yet.

Keep Mid-Level donors in the regular acknowledgment program but take the time to develop a special variable paragraph that recognizes their leadership. Some organizations keep their regular acknowledgment program in place for everyone, but supplement it with a special certificate or note card mailed separately that recognizes these donors’ special status and thanks them again for their leadership support.

5)  Good Stewardship Does Not Have to Be Expensive.

What is your plan for keeping these donors engaged with your organization? There are lots of ways to reach out to these donors without adding significant costs.

  • Have volunteers call these donors once or twice a year and thank them.
  • Send out a special “thank-you” postcard
  • Invite these donors to join conference calls so they can hear from your Executive Director
  • Develop a smaller version of your annual report that you can mail them.

Remember, if you can find a few key ways this year to enhance your organization’s relationship with your Mid-Level donors, you should reap some BIG rewards: more upgrading, higher retention, and a bigger pipeline for your major donor program.

Debbie Merlino
About the Author:
Debbie Merlino
President, Agency Services

As President of Agency Services, Debbie is responsible for overall client satisfaction. She works to ensure AFG’s winning strategies are being shared throughout the organization for the benefit of all our clients. Debbie is frequently out on the road sharing insights with others and listening to your challenges so we can develop solutions.

What excites you about your work at AFG?

I get to meet the best people and hear their stories. Hardly anyone says they planned to work in development. Learning how our clients found themselves in this profession and hearing the stories of the people they serve is inspirational.

If you weren’t at AFG, what would you be doing?

Attempting the life of a freelance journalist, working in a bookstore, and/or doing a podcast for my own enjoyment.

What are your hobbies/interests outside AFG?

Making people laugh. It’s thrilling! Especially when done purposefully and I’m on stage ; ) I also enjoy yoga and a well-crafted cocktail.

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