Trying to Get Closer to Your Middle Donors? It's Not That Complicated

Are you familiar with The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People?

This best-seller was published in 1998 and for a while after that, everything in business was about time management. Marketers were selling calendars as time management devices, and conference talks and seminars were all about making you a more effective time manager. It was a bandwagon that everyone simply had to be on.

The bandwagon right now in the fundraising industry is Middle Donor management.

Everywhere I go, people are talking about Middle Donors. It’s the most popular talk at conferences, everyone is an expert, and every single organization is trying to figure out how to engage this high-potential group most effectively.

Here’s the thing – Middle Donor fundraising is not that hard or complicated. There is a specific, proven way to do it. If you do it right, it will work. We’ve found that out over the last 10+ years and have lots of documented case studies to show it.

Middle Donor management combines the relational components of Major gift fundraising with the discipline of Mass fundraising. It allows you to grow your Middle Donor relationships in a scalable, manageable way. In fact, Middle Donor fundraising may be the answer to a recent industry study that asked, Relationship Fundraising: where do we go from here?

The authors of this study rightly point out that a good donor relationship involves timely, relevant communications, a willingness to listen to your donors, and a willingness to respect their preferences. All of this builds trust and helps to foster long-term donor relationships.

The relationship approach has long been focused on Major Donors. As fundraisers, we meet these donors in person, get to know them well, and present them with tailored offers. Nothing will ever replace direct human contact in fundraising. But it’s now possible to extend aspects of relationship fundraising to your Middle Donors. In fact, by taking advantage of technology tools, you can extend the relationship approach to your entire donor file.

If Middle Donor management is a bandwagon concept, why did I jump on it in this article? It’s because it seems to me that the bandwagon is furiously trying to invent a wheel that’s already invented. This is not the place to spend your R&D money, folks. There are answers and proven approaches. Here’s a short video where you can learn more.

And if you’re looking for an agency to help you with Middle Donor fundraising, be sure to ask a few questions. Do they understand the principles of relationship fundraising? Do they know how to apply these principles to their Middle Donors? Can they show you some success stories that demonstrate a measurable increase in file size? Ask the right questions, and you’ll be on your way to growing your Middle Donor relationships.

Cam Shapansky
Founder & CEO, Blue North Strategies

Cam Shapansky, Founder & CEO, Blue North Strategies, is an industry thought leader, speaker, and advocate with more than a decade of experience in social sector fundraising and program development. Cam has led change management, strategic planning, and executive coaching initiatives with dozens of non-profit organizations. Middle Donor program development is one of Cam’s core areas of specialization.

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