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When planning and executing a successful capital campaign, it’s easy to focus on the major donors who contribute large sums of money. However, there’s a group of donors that often gets overlooked but plays a crucial role in the success of these campaigns: mid-level donors. These donors are the “middle children” of the fundraising world—sometimes overshadowed by their bigger siblings but incredibly important for a balanced and successful campaign.

Let’s explore the significance of mid-level giving and how to engage and cultivate these essential contributors.

Defining Mid-Level Giving

Mid-level donors are those who give more than the average annual donor but less than the major donors. The exact amount that constitutes a mid-level gift can vary depending on the size and scope of your organization and campaign. Typically, these gifts range from $1,000 to $25,000. They are significant enough to make an impact but not large enough to be classified as major gifts. Be sure to define the middle-level gift range in a way that makes the most sense for your organization.

It’s also helpful to understand mid-level giving trends. Here are some insights from Sea Change Strategies’ mid-level donor study:

  • 82% of mid-level donors are Baby Boomers or older.
  • The majority of mid-level donors are female.
  • 59% of mid-level donors give once a year and 23% give each month.
  • 34% of mid-level donors have a net worth between $1 million and $5 million.
  • 90% of mid-level donors have a college or graduate degree.
  • 50% of mid-level donors volunteer.

The Overlooked Middle Child

Mid-level donors often don’t receive the same level of attention as major donors. They might not get invited to exclusive events, and they might not receive the same personalized outreach. This can be a missed opportunity for organizations. Mid-level donors have the potential to become major donors in the future. They are often passionate about the cause and have the capacity to give more as their relationship with the organization deepens.

The Upgrade Path

For lower-level annual donors with the capacity and inclination to give more, mid-level giving serves as a stepping stone. These donors might not yet be ready or connected enough to make a lead gift, but they are primed for upgrading. With appropriate stewardship, these donors can be nurtured to increase their giving levels. Sending fast and personal gift acknowledgments (through personal emails, handwritten notes, and phone calls), sharing impact stories, and prioritizing ongoing engagement can encourage these donors to give more significantly over time.

Surprising Generosity

Mid-level donors can and will give surprisingly large gifts when approached correctly. Identifying those with the capacity and inclination is key. Be sure to employ AI-powered wealth screening tools to gather more donor information and predict things like the likelihood of giving a donation of a certain size.

Once most of the lead gifts have been solicited, targeting the next group down as though they were lead donors can yield significant results. This strategy can bridge the gap between large and small gifts, ensuring the campaign meets its goals.

Understanding The Gift Range Chart

A gift range chart is an essential tool in capital campaign planning. It helps you understand how many gifts at each level you need to reach your goal. For instance, in a campaign with a $2.5 million working goal, you might need:

  • 1 gift of $500,000
  • 2 gifts of $250,000
  • 4 gifts of $100,000
  • 8 gifts of $50,000

This is a sample gift range chart.

The chart breaks down the campaign into manageable parts and shows the importance of mid-level gifts. While the top tiers might be classified as major gifts, the lower levels often represent mid-level gifts. Current mid-level donors can upgrade to higher levels, significantly impacting the campaign’s success.

Building Strong Relationships

Mid-level donors often give more generously when they feel a personal connection to the cause. This means you should prioritize regular communication, invite them to events, and show genuine appreciation for their support. As your relationships become stronger, mid-level donors are more likely to consider making larger gifts.

Practical Tips for Engaging Mid-Level Donors

  1. Lean On Your Case For Support. According to Capital Campaign Pro, your case for support serves as the foundation for all campaign communications. Remember that while how you deliver your outreach communications will change as you cater to your mid-level donors, the core message of the campaign won’t.
  2. Segment Your Donors. Segmentation is a popular nonprofit marketing strategy that involves sorting donors into groups based on shared characteristics and then catering your communications to those groups. For instance, you might segment your mid-level donors by communication channel preference, geographic location, or age to better tailor your messages to their specific needs.
  3. Create a Mid-Level Donor Program. Develop a specific program for mid-level donors that includes regular communications, exclusive updates, and special recognition.
  4. Host Exclusive Events: Invite mid-level donors to special events where they can see firsthand the impact of their contributions and meet other supporters.
  5. Personalize Communication. Tailor your communication to each mid-level donor. Recognize their previous contributions and share how their continued support can make a difference.
  6. Provide Clear Opportunities for Upgrading. Show mid-level donors how they can increase their impact by moving to the next giving level. Highlight specific projects or needs that require additional funding.
  7. Offer Diverse Giving Options. Writing a check isn’t the only way to give to your capital campaign, and many nonprofits make the mistake of thinking that only major donors are interested in giving in different ways. But mid-level donors may also be interested in changing up how they give. Contributing through donor-advised funds (DAFs), donating stock, donating cryptocurrency, and pursuing corporate matching gifts are all viable methods for mid-level giving.

Mid-level donors are a vital part of any capital campaign. They provide a stable base of support and have the potential to become major donors in the future. By recognizing their importance, engaging them appropriately, and providing pathways for them to increase their giving, organizations can ensure the success of their capital campaigns. Remember, these donors might be the “middle children,” but with the right approach, they can play a leading role in your organization’s fundraising efforts.

In your next campaign, don’t overlook the power of mid-level donors. Cultivate these relationships, show them the impact of their gifts, and watch as they help propel your organization to new heights.

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