Last week, nonprofit research firm NextAfter sponsored a call to preliminarily release new research on how nonprofits steward, communicate with, and solicit mid-level donors (donors who make a gift of at least $1,000, but who are not major donors, often defined as $10,000+). It is often suggested that this segment of the donor population is unattended to or under-leveraged, and NextAfter’s initial findings seem to confirm this.
NextAfter donated $1,000 to 37 different nonprofits working in various sectors. They then tracked all communications they received from the organizations for 90 days. This formed the basis for their analysis, the highlights of which are as follows:
1. Not enough organizations call mid-level donors. Other research suggests that a donor’s second gift may be up to 40% larger. In addition to realizing greater revenue, calling donors allows an organization to get direct feedback from them. NextAfter suggests that anyone on staff can and should make calls—it’s a great way to involve your donors into the life of your organization. And talking to donors gets the program staff thinking about development.
2. Organizations should ask for, but not require, a phone number on online donation forms. Making a phone number a strict requirement creates friction that reduces conversions.
3. Most organizations are not communicating—thanking, updating, soliciting—frequently enough with mid-level donors via phone, print, and digital. NextAfter suggests finding multiple ways to thank a donor and then ensure that the donor is solicited for another gift within a reasonable timeframe.
4. In email communications, make sure the sender is a real person at the organization, but do not include the organization’s name in the “from” line. Additionally, use personal salutations in emails. NextAfter suggests that emails be believable, readable, and clear, employing empathetic language and a personal, informal tone.
In February, NextAfter will release a full, formal study outlining its findings on mid-level donors.
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