Who are Mid-Level Donors and Why Should I Care?

Mid-level donors are kind of like the middle child of giving. They’re stuck in between the average and major donor and oftentimes don’t get the attention they want or deserve, which forces them astray or to give their support elsewhere. Instead of missing out on this giant fundraising opportunity, find out who your mid-level donors are and cultivate them properly to transform your fundraising efforts.

Who are mid-level donors?

The mid-level donor category stretches between the largest average donor and the smallest major donor. Imagine your average gift is around $175 (great job, by the way!) and you receive a random donation between $250 and $2,500—this would be a good example of a mid-level donation.

The mid-level donor floor is the smallest gift that you can get and still consider it a mid-level donation. Organizations see mid-level donor floors from anywhere between $50 to over $10,000 depending on the size of their organizations. A mid-level donation ceiling is the largest donation you can get that can still be considered a mid-level donation, but not so large that it becomes a major donation. The mid-level donor ceiling can span all the way up to $100,000, but it’s not typical for most organizations—especially for the small to medium-sized nonprofit. For example, if your mid-level floor is around $200, your mid-level ceiling might be around $5,000.

Mine your own data to find your donor range.

Each organization is different, even if the size of gifts are similar, so it’s important to dig into your own data and see what’s true for you. Look at your gifts from the previous 6-12 months to help inform and determine your three tiers of donors. Your average gifts and major gifts will help determine your mid-level donor range. Finding your donor tiers is not an exact science, but offers a great point of reference to target your efforts and shape your messaging.

It’s important for me to note that splitting your list into three segments based on gift size is a helpful task, but there are no magic formulas to gaining support, and this is by no means a silver bullet. Since it’s not perfect, not every organization will benefit from this model. But with some trial and error, you’ll be able to see what works and what doesn’t, to not only attract new donors but keep current donors giving—and even get them to start giving more.

Why do I care about mid-level donors?

The potential of the mid-level donor is almost unlimited. Based on the data from Maeve Strathy’s breakout session at Cause Camp 2016, giving in the US as a percentage of GDP has stayed at 2% for over 45 years. Which means that income is growing, but the amount we’re giving isn’t. The issue isn’t that people are selfish, it’s that we’re not asking enough of them and not meeting them where they’re at. Mid-level donors have not only shown that they care enough to give to your organization, but at a rate higher than your average donor.

Strathy also gave a case study from a charity in the UK who implemented a strategy to cultivate mid-level donors. After their efforts, they saw a 37% drop in attrition, over 90% of first-time donors gave again and over 75% of people who pledged gave more than their initial pledge—over 25% increased their gift by at least 20%. (See more specific details in the session below.)

How do I engage the mid-level donor?

Now you know who the mid-level donor is and you know why you should be spending more time with them. But the most important part isn’t just understanding who they are, it’s actually engaging them. Here are a few tips on getting the mid-level donor to not only keep giving, but to start giving more.

  1. Use both direct mail and personal solicitation strategically.
  2. Have an ask in mind, but be flexible and let donors navigate what their money goes to.
  3. Donors view their gift as a kind of investment, so show them the “ROI,” of their donation—or the impact they helped you create.
  4. And as always, never forget to say a warm and sincere thank-you.

Maeve outlines several other details about the mid-level donor, more in-depth tips on engaging them (like the ask triangle), and has some stellar tips on not only finding, but making the most of your mid-level gift opportunities. Check out her breakout session from the Cause Camp 2016 online stream.


If you like what you hear and see, check out Cause Camp 2017 and join the party online or in-person. Cause Camp offers a high definition and interactive online streaming option—if you can’t make the trip to Lincoln to get you into the action and impact of Cause Camp. Reserve your spot today to transform your organization and get a 50% discount.

mid-level donors

Nick Small

With specialties in content strategy and creation, social media engagement and digital marketing optimization, Nick brings a depth of experience in nonprofit marketing. He’s also helped hundreds of nonprofits with their online presence to improve donor retention and attract new audiences, and he still has time for a good glass of whiskey, round of golf or new adventure.

February 22, 2017

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