Apr 1, 2014
A growing number of nonprofit resources and energy are now being dedicated to specific groups of donors. Both the bigger, corporate level donors that provide large sums of capital and smaller, millennial-aged donors who are likely to be the future of nonprofit donating often get the most marketing attention from nonprofits.
However, a recent study suggests that charitable organizations are passing up a much needed group of benefactors: the middle donors. According to Sea Change Strategies' "THE MISSING MIDDLE: Neglecting Middle Donors Is Costing You Millions," nonprofits are missing out on processing donations because they're overlooking this productive and often committed group of individuals. The middle donors are classified as those who give less than major gift audience, but more than the low amount that direct marketing donations often yield. Specific amounts include anywhere from $250 to $9,000, Alia McKee, a co-author of the report, told the NonProfit Marketing Blog.
The study added that middle donors are highly valuable to any organization.
"Mid-level donor prospects represent significant income potential and greater retention stability - probably even more than major donor prospects," the report said. "They are a reservoir of steady support for organizations, if stewarded properly."
Marketing often overlooks middle
It's been said that the middle child is often the most disregarded in the family. Hearsay aside, Both McKee and Mark Rovner found that organizational errors can often lead to this group of benefactors being overlooked due to a focus of resources elsewhere. Major gifts programs often include galas and pageantry, while direct marketing programs often yield smaller donations. The middle ground is a great opportunity for organizations to accept online donations, for example, but a functional gap exists in most nonprofits and the middle group receives lackluster treatment, McKee told the NonProfit Marketing Blog.
A solution to this issue, according to fundraising guru Roger Craver said in the Sea Change Strategies report, is a re-branding of the middle donor group. Craver believes the middle of anything is often considered bland or boring; but in the nonprofit world, these individuals - often middle-aged and financially stable - are more likely to make a strong donation to your charity right now, versus years down the road like some major gift donors.
An online donation form filled out with a six-figure attachment is obviously sexier than one with a three or four-figure gift included on it. However, it's these donations that can provide a stable foundation for nonprofits to continually build upon, instead of swinging for the fence every time. In limiting the strike-outs per time at bat, charities can ensure financial security themselves with the realignment of certain marketing resources.