There’s Money in the Middle for Fundraisers
Here are a few broad-brush ideas for getting more from the middle:
Do your homework. If you can possibly swing it, it will definitely be worth some time and effort to learn what issues motivate your middle donors most. Surveys, phone calls with a representative sampling, maybe even (dare I say it?) a focus group. This might even be a good time to learn more about how to use marketing personas to help you walk a mile in their middle-sized shoes.
Show them that you care. Many, if not most, middle donors were originally acquired by direct mail and are still mail-responsive. So don't be afraid to mail them. But don't treat them like typical direct-mail donors either.
Keep it real. Midlevel letters need to be more personal, more substantive and less formulaic. Handwritten cards, member clubs, special reports, greater access — these are just a few ways to hold both their interest and their commitment.
Grow your middle, by challenging high-dollar donors to stretch their giving. It's OK to encourage your upper-level mail donors to step up to the next level. Offer them additional benefits, invite them into the club and let them know they'll be treated differently.
Thank them early and often. Sincere and timely acknowledgment of every gift is critical, no matter what the donor's level. Whatever you're doing to thank your regular donors, kick it up a notch for the middle donors. And pick up the phone once in a while and tell them how much their support means to your organization.
It's often said that fundraising is highly counterintuitive. And it's true that in fundraising, real-world logic doesn't always apply. Middle donors, for example, provide a rare instance in which making your middle bigger will actually increase the health of your organization.
Willis Turner believes great writing has the power to change minds, save lives, and make people want to dance and sing. Willis is the creative director at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He worked as a lead writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 15 years before making the switch to fundraising 20 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, and collateral communications materials that get attention, tell powerful stories and persuade people to take action or make a donation.