“Our approach to our street-supporter recruitment is directly on-brand,” Sherrington says. “It is, in itself, a reflection of being an activist organization.
“But we take it further,” he adds. “Our recruiter staff … are Greenpeace; they represent Greenpeace. It’s the real thing, when you meet Greenpeace on the street.”
Explaining monthly giving’s benefits to members and potential donors is a relatively easy sell for Greenpeace. For one thing, it’s environmentally friendly in that it cuts down on the amount of mail the organization is sending. Second, electronic funds transfer eliminates the hassle of mailing a check. And allowing people the option to stop whenever they like eases the ask.
Most important, Sherrington says, is getting people to see the need for long-term support.
“If you’re honest about communicating that long-term goals take long-term support, people know that one $20 donation isn’t going to do it,” he explains.
However, while monthly giving is easier for the donor, it has by no means been a hands-free operation for Greenpeace. There are technical considerations, primarily the fact that roughly 1,000 monthly giver debits fail every month, mostly due to errant bank processing, expired credit cards, etc. Because of this, Greenpeace USA has had to stay on top of the debiting process to contact donors and “mop up” these issues when they arise.
Nevertheless, by taking the focus off the everlasting ask, monthly giving has enabled the organization to focus on the donor relationship.
“Once you’ve got them, all the attention is on retention … You don’t have to take the time to ask over and over again, and instead you can spend that time and energy to develop a relationship that goes beyond giving,” Sherrington says.
The program, by its nature, displays both the organization’s and donor’s long-term support of the mission and allows space for a “proper conversation,” Sherrington says. Monthly givers are kept in the loop through a quarterly newsletter that updates them on Greenpeace operations. The newsletter has no financial ask and is focused instead on encouraging participation through action-oriented campaigns, which Sherrington says get double the response rates of special appeals.