As you prepare for year-end, when many charities receive 40% or more of their total fundraising revenues, have you given thought to how you will cultivate and solicit those special few -- the top 1% to 5% of your donors who are committed and capable and will give up to 40% of your goal? 

All donors are not the same. They give different amounts, for different reasons.  If you want to put them into buckets, you have:

  1. Major donors, who are giving large gifts from assets and give on their time schedule, not yours.  
  2. Annual fund donors, who may give a little throughout the year but will almost always come through at year-end with a $25, $50 or $100 check.  
  3. And then there's what we'll call the "committed middle."  These aren't major donors, or major donor prospects.  But they can give gifts of $1,000, $2,500 or $5,000 from their expendable income.   

All donors are not the same.  So why would you treat them all the same?  This year, maximize your year-end fundraising by identifying and cultivating your committed middle donors.  

I hear you asking, "Where do I find my committed middle donors?"  I'm glad you asked.  They are there - maybe not yet giving up to their capacity -- but you'll find them lurking behind $30 or $75 annual gifts.  

Look for donors who have high RFM scores (Recency-Frequency-Money) which indicate a strong and loyal giving history.  Next, look for those with the capacity to give $5,000 or more over a five year period.  Make sure that you don't include any major gift prospects who are currently under management by another fundraising team or individual.

Once you have this list of individuals, develop a strategy to personalize your outreach and grow the relationship.  Consider some of the following actions to help cultivate this group for a $1,000 ask:

  • Invite them to a holiday event
  • Invite them for a personal tour
  • Invite them to have breakfast, or lunch, with your president or board chair
  • Call them on the telephone to express thanks for their past support, and explain your current needs and vision
  • Send them news articles or links to educational information concerning your mission
  • Send them news about your organization - with handwritten, personalized notes where possible and appropriate
  • Personalize the year-end appeal, either with a face-to-face or telephone ask or a high-end mailing inviting them to join your "President's Circle" or "Sustainer's Society"

For more ideas and worksheets for cultivating your committed middle donors, get our free workbook, Fundraising Strategy Shortcuts.

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