Mid-level donors are some of your organization’s most generous, dependable, and important supporters. The last thing you want to do is annoy them with too many messages — but you don’t want to leave them completely out of the loop either. We’re here to help you think strategically about how to use your end-of-year (EOY) fundraising campaign to deepen relationships with your mid-level donors.
Contrary to popular belief, we’ve learned that many mid-level donors actually want to receive emails from your organization. They appreciate the occasional rapid response fundraising email, policy updates, and even your monthly newsletter. What mid-level donors don’t want is an endless barrage of mass-market fundraising appeals after they’ve made a significant investment in your organization.
We definitely get the urge to suppress mid-level donors from your digital EOY appeals. It’s a retention play. You’ll see better long-term returns, right? But if you ignore those donors, they’ll ignore you back, and we’ve found that mid-level donors are responsive to online fundraising messages at EOY in addition to their annual contributions (regardless of channel). That leaves lots of potential revenue on the table with a key part of your audience that may have been overlooked when it comes to digital.
So, what’s a nonprofit digital fundraiser to do? We’ve broken it down to five rules* for easy scanning:
- Reduce your email cadence for mid-level donors, but don’t suppress them entirely.
We mentioned that mid-level donors like to receive emails from your organization — but you don’t want to overdo it. As a general rule of thumb, plan to send your mid-level donors about 25% of your overall EOY email cadence. But do go ahead and suppress mid-level donors if they’ve already given during your EOY campaign.
- Personalize, personalize, personalize.
Every single message a mid-level donor receives during EOY should acknowledge their status (and, if possible, their interests). This doesn’t mean mid-level donors need to receive an entirely different email from your grassroots donors, but it should at least include a few lines of conditional copy that speaks to their status as one of your most generous donors. Bonus points for referencing how much they’ve donated in the past year and how you used that donation(s). Donors love to hear about impact!
- Make it feel extra special.
The messages your mid-level donors receive shouldn’t feel like general email blasts. Offer exclusive funding opportunities for special projects and programs, create an email template that’s designed especially for mid-level donors, designate a mid-level program steward and only send messages from that person, and/or offer mid-level donors early access to EOY match funds.
- Incorporate upsells into the program.
If a donor gave one large gift and several smaller gifts last year, ask them to increase their gift this year to equal or greater than that total amount this year. You’ll want to be specific about why you’re asking them to increase their gift this year and what that will allow your organization to do. Have your operation costs increased due to COVID-19? Is your organization struggling to provide the services needed to the communities you serve? Those are valid reasons for needing more revenue this year — make sure you explain that to the donor.
- Say ‘thanks’ with a phone call or a handwritten note.
A timely, personal phone call or thank you note can go a long way in making donors feel appreciated. Create a plan with your direct marketing or donor relations team to send a note or make a call within 1-3 days of when the donor’s gift was received. This is a small touch that can go a long way in building long-term relationships with donors.
No matter how you decide to approach your mid-level donor strategy for EOY, always say thank you (even if a mid-level donor doesn’t make a gift during EOY). You won’t keep that donor for very long if they don’t feel appreciated.
*We’re not down with a one-size-fits-all approach — but we do think these five “rules” can help you get started. Feel free to break the rules, try new things, and check your assumptions to find what works best for your organization.
Want to keep this conversation going? Just reach out!