Middle donors and the White House

April 05, 2019


Are your middle donors suffering from middle child syndrome?
Do they feel excluded, ignored, overshadowed by the over-indulged major donors
and the high volume, attention-stealing low dollar donors? 

Organizations are starting to shine the spotlight on middle
donors, and rightly so.  The reality is
middle donors account for less than 2% of all donors in our programs and yet
generate upwards of 30% or more of annual revenue—all without receiving much
attention or fanfare. 

Middle donor programs are taking hold in nonprofit organizations.
In the past three years, organizations with dedicated middle donor programs
have seen the number of middle donors increase along with their revenue.  As we take holistic view of these donors’
giving patterns, we find that some cases nearly 40% of their revenue is coming
from the online channel as a result of offline solicitations and stewardship,
and 30%-50% of new donors to the middle donor category had their first gift to
the organization at or below $50. 

These facts are what have propelled The White House
Historical Association to invest in their membership growth and remake their
middle donor program.  The White House
Historical Association was founded in 1961 by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy to
enhance the understanding and appreciation of the Executive Mansion. They are
more famously known for the annual White House Christmas ornament commissioned
annually to honor an historical president. 
Their middle donor program has gone through a transformation in the past
two years.  Through invitations to
special events, more personalized treatment, and dedicated staff, the program
is seeing exponential growth. 

Remake your middle donor program like the White House
Historical Association with the following steps:

  1. Dedicate
    a staff person to middle donors.
    It’s worth it.
  2. Mind the
    Formalized with clear business rules and intentional hand-offs for
    moving middle donors up and/or major donor down.
  3. Leverage
    Exploit the tools and techniques available to be able to scale
    a personal touch to a broader audience more efficiently.
  4. Share
    Engage with more in-depth content to offer middle donors an inside
    look and deeper appreciation for the work they help fund. 
  5. Optimize
    the donor experience.  
    Focused on
    creating positive donor experiences and on the entire donor journey. View
    revenue from all channels as part of the middle donors’ revenue
  6. Surprise
    and delight.
    Take advantage of the many little moments throughout the week,
    month or year when your mission is being fulfilled and share that experience
    with your middle donors. They will appreciate the personal touch and become
    even more engaged. 

Shine the spotlight on your middle donors and start reaping
their rewards.  

Craig DePole is
President of Newport One, a leading, full-service, direct response fundraising
agency serving nonprofit organizations for more than 30 years.  He also serves as chairmain of the Board of
Directors for the Association of Direct Response Fundraising Council
(ADRFCO).   Craig can be reached at

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