As Jan Brady showed us on The Brady Bunch, being stuck in the middle is complicated.
Remember what middle school was like? Those life lessons can be applied to your mid-level program.
- No one knows where they fit in. They’re not big enough for some things, they’re not small enough for others. This means in order to connect with them, you’ll need to borrow a little from where they’re going and a little from where they’ve been.
- People talk to them like they’re “just kids.” Just like that 8th grader who thinks he’s a fully independent adult, you’ll typically get a better reaction by using a voice and tone that’s more advanced than they really require. Don’t send your mid-level donors to the kiddie table.
- They care about what YOU think of them. So pay attention to them! Preferably before they break out the poufy black wigs. Don’t let things get so extreme.
- Remember where they began. Sometimes middle schoolers need a quick reminder of the values they were taught in elementary school. Even as you steward your mid-level donors towards higher giving levels, use that early information (Did they come in through the mail? Online? An event?) to connect with them and keep them engaged.
- They have unparalleled B.S. detection. So be genuine with them! Like the middle school kids who shirk at a pat on the head, your mid-level donors will know when you’re treating them as simply one of the herd.
- Appreciate that change is hard. These donors have already had the experience of low-dollar giving or membership. They’ve moved up and on. But they may not be ready to move again right away. Recognize them where they are, for what they’ve already done . . . and when they’re ready (and well-stewarded), some will surely “graduate” to major gifts!