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Defining Your Mid-Level Donors

When it comes to reaching nonprofit donors, it’s important to define who it is you’re marketing to. Often nonprofits focus solely on major donors or new donors. They lose sight of their important mid-level donors even though mid-level donors make up the bulk of the organization’s giving.

This is fertile ground, ripe for growth. But who are mid-level donors?

Accept the Uniqueness of Mid-Level Donors

There is no specific “amount” that defines a mid-level donor. That number is unique to your nonprofit and requires that you evaluate your data regularly. Some organizations have mid-level donors who give as little as $50 and others who give as high at $10,000.

Create Your Bell Curve

Identifying your mid-level donor first requires that you get a big picture view of your donor base. An easy way to do that is with a simple bell curve.

The curve represents your entire donor base. This graph shows the number of donors as they relate to your median annual gift. This mean that an equal number of donors fall on either side of this number. Your high donors, on the right, probably give a larger percentage of your total revenue. For that reason, they warrant special attention.

That said, in this article, we want to identify the donors who are faithful and committed yet don’t often receive the same attention as a high-level donor. This category of donor probably represents a larger segment of your base than any other category.

Determine Your Nonprofit’s Median Annual Gift

To identify your mid-level donors, first determine your median annual gift. This is important because you may have donors who give $1,000 once per year and you may have donors who give $80 per month. Which is more valuable?

While it’s easy to be lured by the larger number of $1,000, you can’t dismiss the loyalty of someone who gives nearly the same amount over 12 months ($80 x 12 months = $960).

Segment Your Bell Curve by Donation Amounts

If your median annual donation amount is $500, that is where your bell curve peaks. You will see a drop in the number of donors the further they move away from your median annual donation amount. So in this case, you’ll have fewer donors who have given $250 or $750. You’ll see an even greater drop at $50 or $1,000. Again, the number you’re looking for reflects people, not dollar amounts.

Establish the Mid-Level Donor Limits

There is no exact science for donor limits, but here are some questions to ask as you identify your donors:

  • How many high-level donors can our organization afford?

Determine how many people can you give quality attention to, taking into account money (thank-you gifts, banquet invites, select mailings) and time (phone calls and one-on-one meetings) without stretching your resources too thin or spending so much that your organization is merely breaking even or, worse, losing money.

  • How many low-level donors can we afford?

You’ll find a break-even point where low-level donors are no longer valuable to your organization if you treat them the same as your mid-level donors. Bottom line: You’ll be losing money.

  • Where do the bulk of our donors fall?           

These are your mid-level donors.

Once you know these limits—the lower end of the high level and the higher end of the low level—you’ll have established your mid-level limits. These limits should be supported by the bulk of your donors. A pattern will begin to develop.

Even though you identify the range of your mid-level donors, you still need to establish parameters for cultivating them. You may find that it’s better to target the donors who fall between your average cumulative donation amount and your high-donor threshold. Understanding what works for your nonprofit will take testing and a well-thought out strategy with quantifiable results. Only then will you have a clear definition of success. 

If you still struggle to find these levels or if your current software makes this reporting impossible, it may be time to invest in a more powerful solution. DonorDirect gives you this kind of reporting so that you can easily identify, segment and target your donors at different levels. Click here to set up a free demo today.

Cultivate Your Mid-Level Donors

Once you’ve defined your mid-level donors, it’s time to get to work. With a comprehensive communication strategy, you can cultivate your mid-level donors and make them an even stronger force within your organization. Don’t overlook this segment of your nonprofit. Allow your mid-level donors to join your mission to an even greater degree and make an even greater impact on the world!