6 Tips for Successfully Upgrading Your Mid-Level Donors

By eleventy marketing group

Moving Donors Through the Upgrade JourneyFor nonprofits looking to developing lasting donor relationships, it’s important to have a strategy. You need to have a system in place for effectively guiding donors through the complete journey—from initial connection to the mid-level to major-donor programs.

Whether its work, relationships or philanthropy, people value progress. They want the opportunity to do more, contribute more, and get more involved as time goes on. If you’re not strategically and systematically presenting those opportunities, you’re probably losing donors.

In today’s post, we’ll provide some key tips from nonprofit direct-marketing leaders on how you can successfully move donors through the upgrade process.

These Are Lessons Learned from a Mid-Level Giving Summit

In this NonProfit PRO blog post, eleventy vice president of strategy & development Angie Moore details her experiences at both a Mid-Level Giving Summit and the DMA Nonprofit Federation Conference in Washington, D.C, where professionals from major nonprofit organizations discussed mid-level giving and moves management.

In the post Angie shares 10 common success factors for progressing donors up the program ladder. Below we’ll highlight and summarize some of those key factors. Please note: Angie provides additional detail in her write-up that we’re just skimming the surface of here so make sure to read her full post if you want to learn more.

6 Essential Actions to More Effectively Manage the Donor Journey

If you want to successfully move donors through the fundraising journey in your nonprofit, make sure you are doing these six things:

1. Keep Your Storytelling Consistent

Make sure the experience in each of your programs overlaps and connect to the same “story”. If the branding or messaging changes at any level, your donors may become disconnected.

2. Pay Attention to Individual Donor Preferences

As donors move up the ladder, the relationship should become more personal. Make sure you’re listening to their preferences along the way. What are they interested in? Where do they want to make an impact? How do they prefer to receive communications? Keep collecting this data and using it to better personalize your interactions.

3. Create a Clear Segmentation Strategy

You must have a specific and documented strategy for identifying the donors you should be targeting for an upgrade. What defines the ideal upgrade candidate? What data points should you be looking at? Know the significant traits to look for in donors. And make sure you have a data-based process for ensuring donors are placed in the right track.

4. Iron Out Goals and Financial Tracking Across Programs

One of the problems that can occur with upgrade programs is determining who gets credit for revenue if one program loses a donor to another program. This can be tricky. Angie notes in her post that one organization solved this problem by making moving donors a goal of the mid-level program. But it’s important to take tracking into account and make sure it’s clearly communicated across all programs and team members.

5. Monitor and Evaluate Through Metrics and Reporting

Collecting data to follow the movement of your donors is one of the most important elements of the upgrade process. You have to have a system to “see” what’s happening with donors. You have to be able to measure the success of your strategies—and adjust them if you see a breakdown or problem along the line. You need to be able to evaluate donor movement every step of the way.

6. Catch and Address Any Falling Donors

Many organizations have a strategy for moving donors upward and tracking that movement, but what becomes of donors that move down? It’s just as important to have reporting that shows you donors who downgrade or stop giving, as well as a unique and specific plan for dealing with these donors.

It doesn’t make sense to continue sending the same communications you would to a mid-level donor to a donor that has downgraded. These donors are unique so you have to handle them in a unique way. Angie notes in her post that one organization has a quarterly meeting specifically to review donors falling out of program criteria.

Invest in a Strong Process to Build Lasting Donor Relationships

Keeping your donors engaged and moving forward is a key element of retention and fundraising growth. In order to survive and thrive, every relationships must have forward momentum and the feeling that there’s a next level.

Make it a point to develop and maintain an effective system for moving donors through the journey. This will benefit your donors on an individual level, making them feel more engaged and involved, and ultimately enable your organization to more effectively drive your mission forward.