FYI Blog

Engaging Your Mid–Level Donors

As we transition into fall and the busy giving season, I’m looking for opportunities to engage donors in new ways, and offer them more avenues for giving at this generous time of year.

For potential mid-level donors, this is a great time to begin building a bridge between low-dollar and major donor programs, in order to cement relationships with those most likely to give at higher levels.

To create mid‐level member bridge programs, Avalon capitalizes on the efficiencies of direct marketing, while retaining the individualized impact of one‐to‐one major donor marketing. This cultivates strong relationships with donors who are just beginning to make significant contributions (or show potential to do so), but who fall below a major gift threshold for personal contact.

We create a more unified giving‐level fundraising experience, build the case for support at higher levels, and enhance segmentation to identify mid‐level donors who are ready to give more. Effective mid‐level programs require a different perspective than lower‐dollar fundraising programs, with messaging and a case for support that drive mission‐driven philanthropy.

Begin the process by identifying high‐potentials via deep donor file analysis. Then place these donors into a special bridge direct marketing track. Since they established a level of direct marketing responsiveness by joining through a direct marketing channel, these donors are already primed for these types of communications.

For existing mid-level donors, fall is an excellent time to begin the conversation about major and planned giving.

Experience shows that careful and consistent stewardship is the best way to encourage legacy giving from donors at any gift level. Time and again, we’ve seen the power of direct mail to cultivate relationships with donors until they are ready to make a major or planned gift. And, as with upgrades, analytics play a key role in recruitment and messaging, as you pinpoint those donors most likely to be receptive to a planned giving message.

 We create highly targeted, high‐touch direct mail campaigns to invite donors to include nonprofits they support in their wills, trusts, retirement plans, or life insurance policies, while explaining the need for gifts and the good they would do for each organization. These mailings are also highly educational, with information on creating charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, and donor-advised funds.

 In addition, nonprofits can leverage these campaigns as opportunities to survey donors’ readiness for planned giving. By asking donors to self‐identify as already having included the organization in their estate plans or as having an interest in doing so. From there, our clients’ in-house major gift officers personally handle the follow up and stewardship of the planned giving prospects.

 Since donors are extra generous at year-end, and perhaps taking stock as one year ends and another begins, fall is the perfect time to lay the groundwork for mid-level upgrading and legacy giving.