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Keeping it on the mid-level

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[Publisher’s note: This article was provided by Blackbaud, a maker of fundraising software. Blackbaud is a PJ business partner.]

Amy Chase

Amy Chase

Amy Chase

Facing an increasingly challenging funding environment, nonprofits are looking for new and innovative ways to maintain and grow support.

As a nonprofit professional, where should you start?

Should you invest in cultivating major donor prospects, increasing your sustainer program, or shift your focus to your most loyal donors? The answer may be closer than you think.

Organizations can look to their current donor base – specifically their mid-level donors – as a way to continue to build affinity and sustain, if not increase, their contributions.

First, you need to determine what a mid-level donor looks like for your nonprofit, as it differs for each organization.

Once that has been identified, there are three steps you can take to retain and upgrade mid-level donors.

First create a strategy.

Once you have determined your organization’s mid-level donor base, step back and review the latest communication touches that your organization has had with donors in this segment.

Based on the research, determine what the appropriate amount of touches or frequency should be, what channel they prefer — email, mail, personal call — and what message they should receive.

Also, establish what ask level is appropriate for each message. Examine the benefits the mid-level donors are receiving from your organization.

Answer the following questions:

* What is the incentive for giving to this organization?

* What are you conveying about your organization’s mission that will incentivize donors to give?

* Do there need to be additional recognition programs or acknowledgements?

* Will a special invitation to a lecture, presentation or other type of event entice them?

* Does the annual giving staff have time to reach out personally to a small percentage of donors each month?

Examine your answers to these questions and incorporate new ways to add different incentives and recognition to your strategy.

Remember, you can always test a new strategy on a smaller segment of the mid-level audience to gauge the reaction before implementing it across the entire group.

Communicate and execute the strategy to this donor base and make sure the message incorporates new or valuable information about the organization that will drive donors to sustain or increase their gifts.

Make sure the message states why it is important for the donor to give to your organization and share meaningful ways the donor can contribute.

Make the donors feel their impact by contributing if not expanding their contributions. Stick to the strategy and modify as trends emerge from results.

Be creative with follow-up communication.

Send personalized thank-you notes or include a handwritten signature — even if your organization traditionally hasn’t done this at this level.

Send follow-up email or other types of communication that will reiterate to the donors that their money is being spent wisely and is appreciated.

Just as it’s important to recognize and strategize the methods of attracting and retaining major-gift prospects, it’s important to keep the affinity of the mid-level donor base strong, even more so during challenging economic times.


Amy Chase is principal consultant for Blackbaud.

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