What is a Mid-level Giving Program, and Why Your Nonprofit Needs One
Part One of Three
This is the first post in a Three-Part Series on Mid-Level Giving for Nonprofits on #WiserWithWisely. This series will serve as your go-to guide to start and grow a mid-level giving program for your nonprofit.
What is mid-level giving?
If you work in fundraising you’ve probably heard the term mid-level giving over the past couple of years and its growing prominence in nonprofits when planning for next year. The growing focus on mid-level giving is due to its ability to maximize donor revenue and give your mid-tier donors a special experience. If you want to start a mid-level giving program at your nonprofit, then you’re in the right place! Mid-level giving is a donor journey and strategy for your nonprofit’s mid-tier donors. Those donors who are giving less than a major gift, but they’re giving more than your typical annual donor. A mid-level giving program includes mass marketing tactics like direct mail and personal touches through relationship management.
Building a mid-level giving program gives you a way to draw these mid-tier donors closer to your organization and get to know them. By drawing this important donor group in more closely, you can identify who has the capacity to make a major gift.
Why do you need a mid-level giving program?
Your nonprofit needs a mid-level giving program as part of your overall fundraising strategy because
- Mid-level giving is a bridge between your annual donors and your major gift donors.
- Mid-level giving allows you to maximize your revenue efficiently.
- Mid-level giving engages this important donor audience to encourage retention and upgrade
What is the threshold for a mid-level gift?
The threshold for a mid-level gift is different depending on organization size, annual revenue, and donor base. In the same way, the threshold for a major gift is different. In fact, your mid-level giving threshold should be relative to the typical size of gifts given in your major gift program.
For larger organizations, a major gift may start at $25,000, so a mid-level gift could be anything above $1,000 and under $24,999. For many smaller organizations, a major gift could start at $5,000 so the mid-level gift could start closer to gifts from $500 up to $4,999.
What does a mid-level giving program look like?
A mid-level giving program is a bit like providing a hotel concierge for your donors. When you stay in a hotel, the concierge can help you pick a nearby restaurant based on your food preferences. But the concierge isn’t going to help you choose a specific meal from the menu!
In quite the same way, a mid-level relationship manager is like a hotel concierge, only there to answer donor questions and give your nonprofit a friendly face. So unlike major gifts, where you put together a very specific proposal for donors, in mid-level giving, you offer some personal touches to your donors but interact mostly through direct mail.
Why should you build a mid-level giving program?
Did you know that up to three-quarters of a nonprofit’s major donors started out giving a smaller gift through a channel like an in-person event or direct mail? This means you could have donors in your annual giving program with the potential to make transformational gifts to your nonprofit. Not only does your mid-level giving program help build a pipeline of major gift donors, it also provides on-going stewardship for past major donors who aren’t ready to give at that level again.
When you look for major gift prospects through wealth screening, you are only uncovering the top 10% of donors, which is usually what you want! But you are missing your mid-level donors, these donors may not be able to afford to make major gifts every few years, but they do have the capacity to make their lifetime gift to your organization. A mid-level giving program helps you re-engage major donors when it’s too soon to ask them to give another major gift, but you still need a way to keep them engaged.
The mass-market communications will keep these donors informed about your organization and the personal touches will maintain a high feeling of engagement with your organization. They will really appreciate the insider feel of the mid-level giving program and the regular stewardship updates.
Coming up in the second part of this series, how to start a mid-level giving program at your nonprofit AND how to define your mid-level audience.
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Wes launched his fundraising career accidentally when he joined the University of Toronto’s Advancement team. While at UofT he helped build the process, operations, and tools that fundraisers needed to be successful with data-backed decision making. Driven to innovate, expanded his reach and worked with some of the leading Canadian charities, managing their donors and data before joining the Sunnybrook Foundation. There he built their recurring giving program, launched new events, and digitized their fundraising campaigns.
Wes then made the jump into tech and hasn’t looked back. He led the Canadian team at Blackbaud and then founded Wisely, an AI-based technology company, designed to help charities raise more, faster. Today Wes and the Wisely team work with all sizes of nonprofits and are certified technology partners of Blackbaud and Silent Partner Software.