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Improve mid-level donor engagement: 5 motivating strategies

April 10, 2021
A smiling female donor sits at her computer.

For many nonprofit organizations, mid-level donors are the backbone of their fundraising strategy. They’re loyal, reliable, and a core part of your support base, bridging the gap between lower-level and major donors. 

The donation range required to be considered a mid-level donor will differ from organization to organization. For some, it includes gift ranges of $250-$500, while others may set mid-level gifts at $500-$1,000 or even higher.

Mid-level donors represent a segment of your community willing to take on a larger commitment to your organization. While these donors typically consist of a smaller percentage of a nonprofit organization’s donor pool, they are responsible for a larger percentage of overall regular giving. Plus, these donors provide the greatest opportunity to increase future donation amounts. 

To continue receiving their support and generous gifts, your organization should strive to engage them using these five strategies. 

1. Give your mid-level donors a unique identity. 

Mid-level donors are more likely to engage with a nonprofit organization they feel a connection to. Help foster relationships with these donors by creating a unique identity for them. Referring to this group by a specific group name will make donors feel like they’re part of a team or members of an exclusive club, helping build their connection to your nonprofit organization. 

When choosing a name, consider what your mid-level donors are most likely to respond to. For instance, they could be your “Inner Circle” or “All-Star Donors.” Or, you could get creative and use a name relevant to your cause. For example, a conservation group might name their mid-level donors after a specific animal they seek to rehabilitate, such as their “Panda Protectors.”

After choosing a name, find a way to incorporate it into your messaging to reinforce the sense of team unity. For instance, that conservation organization might then message their mid-level donors about what their pandas have accomplished or even address them as The Pandas. 

2. Solidify your branding.

To further reinforce that your mid-level donors are a team, use specific brand and style elements that are unique to them whenever you get in touch. Use a variation of your style guide, keeping the main elements consistent, but varying some items to differentiate communications to these supporters. 

For instance, you might tailor brand elements, such as:

  • Language. Your nonprofit organization uses a specific tone when messaging donors based on how you want your organization to come across. For some organizations, it may make sense to modify this tone when speaking to mid-level donors. For example, a nonprofit organization that uses a more casual tone might be even more personable towards their mid-level donors to make them feel like they’re talking to a friend. 
  • Colors. Choose a team color for your mid-tier donors. This color should look natural when placed next to your other brand colors and shouldn’t displace them in your organization-wide branding document. Use this new color alongside your existing brand colors to give mid-level donors another visual element to associate with your nonprofit organization. This also helps them feel like they’re part of a team and may even motivate them to buy merchandise showing off their specific color. 
  • Point of contact. Whenever you send a message or get in touch with a mid-level donor, ask the same member of your team to do it. Who your donors communicate with may not seem like part of a brand identity, but assigning a specific member of your team to represent your nonprofit organization to donors will further strengthen their connection to your purpose. 

To keep track of these brand elements and how they diverge from your regular branding and messaging strategies, make sure to maintain a comprehensive style guide.

3. Cultivate reciprocal relationships.

What are some of the highlights of your major donor program, and how can you incorporate that same spirit into your relationships with mid-level donors? Use personalized messages and exclusive content to show mid-level donors you’re invested in them. 

While you may not be able to build one-on-one relationships with every mid-level donor, your nonprofit organization should still strive to show your commitment to these supporters. Regularly show your gratitude for their participation in your nonprofit through thank-you messages, appreciation events, and gifts like free t-shirts or other branded merchandise. 

4. Use storytelling strategies. 

Mid-level donors make significant investments in your nonprofit organization and are committed to your purpose. You can reinforce that commitment further by sharing stories about your constituents, volunteers, staff, donors, and others who have helped fulfill your organization’s purpose. 

When communicating with donors, try using these storytelling strategies:

  • Emphasize impact. Whether they’ve given $100 or $10,000, mid-level donors want their gifts to make a difference. In your stories, demonstrate the impact your nonprofit organization has made. Try to draw a direct link from donations you’ve received to the outcomes your nonprofit has had to show donors their role in the process. 
  • Evoke emotion. Most donors give because they have a personal, emotional connection to your purpose. Tell stories that tap into those emotions to remind mid-level donors why their gifts matter. Ask mid-level donors who feel moved by one of your stories to share it with friends and family who might also be interested in getting involved. 
  • Make a call to actionAt the end of a story, tell your readers how they can help support your organization. This call to action may be to give again, increase their giving amount, or offer non-monetary support, such as volunteering, advocating, or spreading awareness by sharing your story. 

Pay attention to your mid-level donors’ interests and preferences so you can share stories that will resonate with them. For example, if you know a mid-level donor is a mother, you might send a story about other moms in your community working together. If a mid-level donor is a young professional, on the other hand, you might instead share a story about the power of youth to make a difference. 

5. Provide exclusive access. 

Communication and branding can make your donors feel like they’re part of an exclusive club, and offering them exclusive access to content and events will only solidify that feeling. Over time, you’ll see their level and frequency of giving increase. 

If you have mid-level donors who have the potential to become major donors, try inviting them to a select number of major donor events to give them a glimpse at what they could aspire to.

Strengthening your mid-level donor relationships

Mid-level donors are a core part of your nonprofit organization’s fundraising strategy. Engage them by emphasizing the unique, important role they play in your nonprofit, and demonstrate your commitment to building relationships with them through personalized, thoughtful appreciation messages.

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