If you’re reading this, chances are you are contributing to a retirement account. Future you depends on present-day you to make sure you have enough to live on when your working days are over.

In the exact same way, the future of your nonprofit depends in part on what you do today.

According to our just-released survey of 5,900 midlevel donors, more than half of these donors have been supporting the organization that participated in the study (there were 36 organizations in all) for more than a decade. More than a third have been supporters for more than 20 years. 

It’s not just our study. There is a growing body of evidence that many donors form relationships with nonprofits many years before they mature into midlevel or major givers. Put another way, many of the high-value donors of 2035 or 2040 have already chosen their recipients today.  That means if you are not investing in engaging young people now, your organization may miss out on substantial income a decade from now.

Unfortunately, most organizations do a poor job of long-term thinking when it comes to fundraising. Too many fundraisers are under immense pressure to maximize dollars now. You wouldn’t spend your 401k money today. Why let short-term thinking rule the fundraising day?

That’s why we counsel a two-track fundraising strategy for midlevel donors: Optimize income now from your current midlevel donors, but also begin investing in your younger future midlevel donors. The young people who will become midlevel donors a decade or two from now may not be ready to give today at all, but they are ready to engage. Maybe they are connecting as volunteers or promoters or advocates. But some number of them will go on to become donors, and as they age into their prime giving years, some number will go on to become midlevel and major donors.

You may not be at your nonprofit 20 years from now. But having invested in its future today, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your hard work continues to pay of


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