Book Review of Erica Waasdorp’s 'Monthly Giving Made Easy'
I have to start with a confession: I am a monthly giving convert. As a practitioner, I heard a lot about it at the Association for Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and other professional conferences, and my ears perked up.
But when I returned to my development shop, I discussed it with the team and, regrettably, didn’t demonstrate the needed leadership to make a robust and serious commitment to make things happen as they should have.
Then, fortunately, paths crossed with Erica Waasdorp, who I like calling the "first lady of monthly giving."
Erica lives and breathes direct response and fundraising appeals, and founded A Direct Solution in 2003. (She also happens to live in one of our favorite spots on the planet — Cape Cod, Massachusetts.)
Erica has graciously been a subject matter expert for two of our Non-Profit Empowerment Series webinars at Eskin Fundraising Training. We fittingly labeled these sessions: Monthly Means More Money.
At first, I thought that Erica’s approach to monthly giving sounded too good to be true. But after the two webinars, several delightful conversations and reading her new book, "Monthly Giving Made Easy," I’m convinced that it definitely is that good and that easy!
More than that, as a fundraising trainer/consultant, I strongly advocate that monthly giving can and should be a centerpiece of resource development efforts for nonprofits of all sizes and from all sectors. It so smoothly supports the success of other fundraising strategies.
I’m a huge fan of effective messaging delivered through carefully crafted words and images, and in her new book, Erica has hit the bull’s-eye.
In our webinars, we embrace the concept of a learning community in which everyone has experience, wisdom and insights to share that enrich the time each nonprofit leader commits to us. In that spirit, while Erica is the maestro, her book energetically shares the fruitful strategies, mechanics and best practices that numerous and diverse nonprofits have adopted to develop more resources to advance their noble missions.
No matter where your nonprofit is in its monthly donor program evolution—from first steps to a rich history—you will concretely benefit from reading the book. You can read it from beginning to end. It’s just 130 pages (packed with useful graphics) or jump back-and-forth through the short chapters as you see fit. I guarantee you’ll leave with practical advice that can be quickly and painlessly implemented in your own operations.
As a fundraising trainer/consultant, here are the few of the themes that resonate strongly with me:
1. Fortunately, most nonprofits and staff tightened their belts and made it through the pandemic, but this is clear—they will have to do more with less. You can’t beat the return on investment on monthly giving. Erica powerfully drives that conclusion home with plenty of data. The cost is low and new technology is lowering it every day. Especially profound is the impact on retention—an enormous challenge for nonprofits with an average sector retention rate of 46%. When you can convert a new or repeat donor to give monthly, the retention rate jumps to an astonishing 90%! Another great advantage is that monthly giving supports much-needed unrestricted funds.
2. Monthly giving dramatically enlarges the philanthropy tent. The McKenzie Scott’s are few and far between. Winning nonprofits truly believe and appreciate that no gifts are too small. The average monthly donor gives $25 a month. Typically, monthly donors stay with the nonprofit for five to seven years, so do the math and you’re talking about a $2,100 supporter. Erica likes pointing out that offering monthly giving as little as $5 a month is well worth the effort.
3. Nonprofits are constantly looking for major gifts (the qualifying amount varies among organizations). As donors who are more intimately engaged with the mission, monthly donors are prime prospects for future major gifts. And they’re six times more likely to leave organizations in their wills.
4. Start with your most inner circle of management, staff, board and volunteers to model giving habits that they can share with friends, neighbors and business contacts. This inner circle should personally experience the ease, personalization and impact that monthly giving offers themselves so they can more effectively fundraise within their respective networks.
All of us in the nonprofit sector can be grateful for Erica’s passion, commitment and leadership in igniting the power of monthly giving. She spreads the story on a non-stop basis through every possible media channel. With her newest book she has made monthly giving even easier for us.
Jim Eskin runs his consulting practice, Eskin Fundraising Training, which builds on the success of his more than 150 fundraising workshops and webinars, and provides training, coaching and support services that nonprofits need to compete for and secure major gifts. He has authored more than 100 guest columns that have appeared in daily newspapers, business journals and blogs across the country. He is the author of “10 Simple Fundraising Lessons.”