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3 Ways to Inspire Your Middle Donors in Your Year-end Campaign

You’ve probably got a plan to reach your major donors in your year-end fundraising, with personalized plans for each person that takes into account their interests and preferences.

You also have a plan to reach the rest of your donors. Maybe it’s through e-mail, mail, or phone or a combination of all of the above.

But do you have a plan for your middle donors?

These are the donors that aren’t your major donors or your standard membership-level donors. They are (as expected by the name) in the middle of your giving pyramid.

They are critical to most organizations because they represent great potential, both in terms of current dollars and future major gift support. But often that opportunity is lost because organizations lump them in with other donor groups.

The fact is that many middle donors don’t want or need the attention of major gift solicitors, but they also are looking for more than a standard year-end letter.

Now, you may already have a year-end plan, but if it doesn’t include middle donors – don’t despair! There are still a few easy things you can do to engage this group and lift their response rate:

Follow-up personally: While it’s great to get the conversation started with a letter or e-mail to kick off the campaign, you will definitely want to use more personalized follow-up to get your middle donors’ attention this giving season.

Make a call or send an e-mail that makes it clear that you know something – or want to know something – about their personal involvement with the organization and their motivations for giving. This is not a mass-generated e-mail or a telemarketing call. It’s something that comes straight from your desk and is clearly personal.

For example, I had a colleague who would call her middle donors in December and ask, “What can I do to help you make your giving decisions this year? Is there any information you need from us? Is there anything you need to talk through?”

Many fruitful conversations came as a result of these simple questions combined with an authentic interest in the answer and immediate action on any requests.

Introduce middle donors to each other: Unlike many major philanthropists who have been invited to more events than they can shake a stick at, middle donors are often experimenting with being a bigger donor and their motivations can be different. They want to know more about what this organization that they support and they want some recognition of their stepped-up commitment.

Yes, they want to learn about it from your staff, but often the attention they most crave is from other donors who support this work. Whether it be for their own networking purposes or just for reassurance that they’ve done the right thing, they want to meet other donors.

You might make this happen by inviting them to your holiday party or an event that is already taking place. (For heavens sake, don’t create an event at this stage!) Or you could invite the group on a conference call or to listen to a staff briefing in a webinar.

Or see if you have any middle donors that could serve as ambassadors to others. These ambassadors could have a quick coffee at their house and invite other middle donors in their area. They could make calls or send e-mails. These ambassadors can extend your fundraising this season and many are happy to do it.

Send special thanks: Again, this is where the middle donor and the major donor are somewhat different. While major philanthropists want acknowledgement and thanks, they often have passed the point where tokens or gifts mean much to them. This is not really true for the middle donors. They are often extremely appreciative of small gestures that connect to the work they are helping to support. This could be anything from a special edition t-shirt to a note from a client or front-line campaigner.

Consider what you might have that you could give as a special way to say thank you. Your middle donors will appreciate your thinking about them.

And don’t forget to track results!

As the “hybrid” group between membership-level and major donors, middle donors have incredible potential for upgrading and serving as the pipeline to future major gifts. But you’ll only realize this potential if you keep track of what you did to build the relationship and how it affected your middle donors’ giving.

Have you considered your middle donors in your year-end campaign? It’s not too late!

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