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Stuck in the middle: A little-understood segment with huge potential

Written By: Cam Shapansky on April 19, 2016

Last month, I started banging the drum about Middle Donors, writing about the benefits of extending your fundraising relationship with this undervalued group. Well, this month I’m still bangin’ away. After more than a decade of focusing on this high-value segment, I’ve got lots to say!

Middle Donor SegmentationFact or Fiction?


See if you can tell whether the following statements are true or false.

  • Middle and Major Donors should not receive mail. They will end up giving $100 to a mail piece rather than $10,000 to me at the kitchen table.
  • Middle and Major Donors should receive the exact same mail treatment as everyone else.
  • Middle Donors are no different than Mass Donors.

If they’re being honest, most folks have no clue! And that’s totally understandable. Middle Donor programs live in a weird kind of purgatory between Mass and Major Donors and there tends to be a lot of confusion about which kind of treatment should win out.

Let me give you some information that’ll help put an end to some of the confusion.

(Skip to the end of this post for details on our NEW worshop which will help you separate fact from fiction about YOUR particular Middle Donors.)

Middle Donors are people who love your organization. They likely give monthly or fairly regularly to your ongoing programs. And at the end of the year, at tax time, or when holiday love is on their minds, they often WANT to give a little something more. If you position yourself well, get to know what’s important to them, and present ideas that align with their interests, they WILL give more.

How to Target

I like to encourage organizations to set a percentage that dictates the amount of money they will spend to welcome, cultivate, steward, and ask Middle Donors to give again. To illustrate, let’s just say that number is 10%. That means that for a donor who gives $40 per year, you give yourself a budget of $4 to spend on them — that’s about two pieces of mail and a few emails.

For a donor who gives $2,000, you can spend $200. While that’s not enough to send someone to their home or take them out to lunch, it is certainly enough for a few mail pieces, several emails, and a couple in-depth phone calls with someone from your organization.

This is the unappreciated beauty of the Middle Donor. You can give them a highly customized treatment, a real live person they can contact, and targeted offers — the kind of treatment that makes a person want to give more. Significantly more!

Cost-Effective Interaction

In the end, the goal of a successful Middle Donor program is to create a real, meaningful relationship with someone you’ll never actually meet. It’s got to be efficient, cost-effective, and highly relevant.

Think of it this way: interacting with Middle Donors is more than “talking” with Siri, and it’s more than a guy at a sweat-box call centre with a rigid script. But it’s not quite an expensive personal banker who visits a customer’s home to drop off their new black card.

Hands-on Middle Donor Workshop

If you want to separate fact from fiction about YOUR Middle Donors, you should really join us at our NEW workshop:The Art and Science of Strengthening Your Middle Donor Core” on May 11 in Toronto. It’s all about harnessing the power of your Middle Donor segment for optimal fundraising impact.

Be sure to check out the full agenda and registration options.

Hope to see you there!

Topics: Mid-Level Program, Direct Mail, Annual Giving, Monthly Program, Relationship Fundraising, Stewardship, Retention, Donor Journey, Donor Experience

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