What do you need for your mid-level giving program?

What do you need for your mid-level giving program-

If this is your first time on this blog, first of all – WELCOME!

Second of all, although I – and guest bloggers who join me – write about anything and everything related to fundraising and philanthropy, there’s one topic that’s my favourite.

Mid-level giving.

Yes, mid-level. That awkward middle child between the well-oiled machine called “annual giving” and the refined big sister called “major gifts”.

Many organizations have been playing in the mid-level sandbox for years now, but for many others it’s a new frontier.

If you’re one of those “many others”, I’ve got a piece of advice to get you started.

Just one thing, that’s simple to understand, but by no means easy to perfect.

Here it is:

To have a successful mid-level giving program, you must use a hybrid approach of direct response fundraising and personal solicitation.

Translation: You can’t just reach mid-level donors through the mail, and you can’t just try the major gift approach with them.


Well, we’ve conditioned most of our donors to be inspired to give via the mail, and so we can’t just take that away from them. Moreover, in my experience, a lot of mid-level donors just don’t want to meet with you. When I was running the mid-level giving program at Wilfrid Laurier University, I would reach out to donors and ask them to meet and they would be (a) very nervous about why I wanted to meet with them, and/or (b) appreciate the thought, but were very happy giving the way they always had.

Fair enough! So you have to keep up with the direct response approach. Although, the mail you send your mid-level donors can’t be the same ol’ appeal you send everyone else. But that’s a topic for another day.

But mail on its own isn’t enough. A lot of these donors are dying for more engagement with your organization, and reaching out to them personally, to meet with them one-on-one, is exactly what they need to stretch their giving to the next level.

This approach has worked wonders for major giving for years, and there’s a good reason. It’s personal, it’s intimate, and it gives you a chance to really understand your donor.

However, of course we can’t justify the resources it takes to travel to meet a donor, take them for lunch, etc. when they make a $1,000 gift at the end of it all. So, these face-to-face meetings have to be done a bit differently than they are with major gift donors/prospects. But that’s a topic for another day, too.

So that’s it, folks! The essential approach to start your mid-level giving program.

Let me know in the comments what you want to know more about.

And thanks for reading!


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Written by Maeve Strathy

Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in fundraising for over nine years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

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12 thoughts on “What do you need for your mid-level giving program?

  1. How do you advise getting over the hurdle to meet one-on-one with mid-levels donors when they (a) are very nervous about why I want to meet with them, and/or (b) appreciate the thought, but are very happy giving the way they always have, but direct mail isn’t enough?

    • Great question, Jess! It’s a big hurdle.

      My best weapon for that is transparency. Make it very clear what you want to meet about — to thank them, report back on what their giving has impacted, share some updates about the org with them, get to know them, and discuss their future giving. Always be clear that fundraising is part – but not ALL – of it.

      That said, if you still can’t get them to meet, and direct mail doesn’t seem to be enough… then you need to do more with your direct mail. Some of the direct mail I’m working on for mid-level donors right now is like DM you’ve NEVER seen! Let me know if you want to learn more.


  2. Because it is quite difficult to meet face-to-face with Donors, would you recommend skype or Google hangouts as an alternative to scale up more face-to-face meetings? I feel this approach might get less hesitancy from the donor and would allow you to meet with more people in the comfort of your office. Thoughts?? (I do understand that this might be slightly less personable)

  3. I am also wondering how to make our mid-level package different. Now we use a live stamp, a handwritten font for the outer envelope and change the language a bit. We also included handwritten notes for some of them. I’d like to know more about what else we could add to the package to make it better. I have read many times that adding a brochure can decrease the response rate so I’m not sure what else to include. Thanks!

  4. Maeve what are your thoughts on the personal “major donor-like” touches with mid-level donors? Our direct mail really functions well, especially in the mid-level segment, but our personal touches have been shots in the dark. Our donors are spread out across the country. It seems phone calls are the only solution, but those haven’t produced much donor interaction.

  5. Pingback: DIRECT MAIL IS NOT DEAD… | What Gives???

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