27 Keys to Monthly Giving Program Success, Part 4 (20-27)
[Editor's note: This is the fourth and final part of a four-part series on the session "25 Proven Monthly Giving Tools & Ideas Packed in 50 Minutes" held at the 2012 Washington Nonprofit Conference. Click here for part 1, here for part 2 and here for part 3.]
At the Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation's 2012 Washington Nonprofit Conference, five fundraising pros shared their secrets to implementing and running a monthly giving program in their session, "25 Proven Monthly Giving Tools & Ideas Packed in 50 Minutes." Here are tips 20-27 of the 25 — actually, 27 (two bonus tips!) — provided by the presenters: Mary Arnold, president of Mary Arnold Enterprises; David Glass, director of online marketing at World Wildlife Fund; Karen Kennedy Downs, direct marketing manager of monthly giving at CARE USA; Nicole Weidokal, vice president of client services at DCCi; and moderator Erica Waasdorp, senior fundraising consultant at DMW Direct.
20. Set a goal for your sustainers
Glass said setting goals can be really impactful, especially since monthly donors can drive a lot of revenue. He said that 1 percent to 2 percent of members as sustainers can drive 5 percent to 10 percent of your annual revenue, with minimal ongoing expenses, because they are loyal and continually giving.
21. Test your monthly giving program on your homepage
Put a link and description of your monthly giving program on the homepage of your website, highlighting an offer or benefit of joining.
"If your site simply asks for single gifts, you'll continue to get single gifts," Glass said. "If you ask for monthly gifts, you'll get them."
Glass suggested doing an A/B split using Google Website Optimizer to track the results. He said that the World Wildlife Fund tested this with the goal to increase sustainers without harming overall revenue. The test revealed a decrease of about 15 percent in one-time donors but increase in monthly donors of about 117 percent. As we know, the lifetime value and annual value of a sustainer is a much greater than that of a one-time donor. The result then is if the value of a sustainer is three times more, return is 4.5 times higher.
22. Test giving levels and when to ask
Glass shared something that sounds counterintuitive: If you provide higher ask strings, you drive higher conversion rates.
"If you want more money, ask for more money," he said. "If not, don't ask for it."
However, Glass did caution to keep an eye out for churn rates. You don't want to lose too many donors to higher ask strings. Also, he suggested that organizations never try to upgrade monthly donors before 12 months, and 12-24 months is ideal — of course, it's always good to test.
23. Use credit card recycling tools
Did you know that once someone signs up, you're allowed to try that credit card again if it gets declined? The credit card companies have a system in place to allow this, so monthly donors can honor their commitments.
"Are you leaving donations on the table by not doing this?" Glass said.
Learn about what recycling features your CRM/DRM and credit card processor offer. This allows you to retry failed cards and process expired cards. There are also account updater services for Visa and MasterCard, and American Express cards have a built-in feature that already allows you to do this.
24. Measure value and churn rates
It's always crucial to measure everything you do in fundraising, and monthly giving is no exception. Glass suggested analyzing:
- Which offers generate the highest average gifts?
- Which offers create the highest churn rates?
- Which offers result in the longest lifetime value?
He also said you should measure everything from e-mail appeals to passive vs. active Web terms and calls to action, telemarketing, direct mail, advertising, search, etc. The goal is to determine where you should spend more resources to optimize your marketing mix.
25. Remember lapsed sustainers
Don't ignore your lapse monthly givers, Waasdorp said. Some tips on re-engaging lapsed sustainers:
- Phone typically works best to win them back.
- Be open to criticism.
- Little surveys work — find out why they really left!
- Sustainers are willing to come back.
26. Try to get overall management commitment
"It makes your life a lot easier when everybody is going in the same direction," Waasdorp said.
27. If all fundraisers focus on sustainers, all nonprofits will benefit
The more familiar donors are with monthly giving programs, the more comfortable they will be with them, Waasdorp said. So it's incumbent upon fundraisers to educate donors that monthly giving is possible, available and easy for them; nonprofits are careful with their personal information; and it's really advantageous for the mission of the organization and the cause it supports.