Technical issues righted, he then spent 2004 rebuilding his fundraising team and operations.
Shifting the focus
Monthly giving had always been a core strategy for Greenpeace USA, though relatively minor in terms of the overall fundraising program.
Sherrington was brought in primarily because of his experience with monthly giving in the United Kingdom, where it’s much more the norm in terms of charitable giving.
To say the monthly giving program was reinvigorated is an understatement. It now represents the most significant part of the organization’s gifts, with 25 percent of donors giving an automatic payment on a monthly basis, which accounts for 60 percent of Greenpeace USA’s contributed income.
There are two streams from which it gets people to join its monthly givers, or Frontliners, club. One is conversion from existing members of the organization, urged through member communications such as the organization’s magazine, which includes an ask for the monthly giving program.
The other is in acquisition. Sherrington says Greenpeace has tested the ask in mail acquisition as well as in renewals, but so far its greatest success has been through direct dialogue, where monthly giving is the only ask.
Becoming a monthly supporter is the first option on Greenpeace’s online donation page. And one-time Web and direct-mail donors are contacted 45 to 60 days after their gift by phone and asked to give monthly.
Putting such emphasis on recruiting monthly donors has caused a structural shift in the organization’s donor base that’s resulted in it now having less than 20 percent the number of donors it had in the ’90s. Sherrington says that a decline in donor numbers might signal a failing program for a traditional fundraising program; but Greenpeace USA’s smaller numbers are offset by the greater return on investment it gets from its monthly donors.