In the Trenches: Building a Monthly Giving Program
Tom McCabe, president of fundraising consult-ancy KMA Direct Communications, which advises many religious charities, reports that his clients’ sustainers come from “frequency giving clubs” — that is, donors who give eight times a year or more. These individuals then are invited to join “annual giving clubs” with a threshold of $1,000 a year — no matter how many gifts it takes to get there.
But where can you promote monthly giving? The Internet, notes Erica Waasdorp, vice president of fundraising for DMW Worldwide.
“You can ask a donor who chooses to give online for a one-time gift or a recurring monthly gift,” she advises. “It’s a perfect vehicle for gaining monthly donors if you can accept credit-card gifts online.”
Selecting payment method
Designating payment options for monthly sustainers is crucial to success. One major animal-protection charity reports a 90 percent retention rate for electronic funds transfer payers — 85 percent for those donors who opt for a monthly credit-card deduction, and only 60 percent who opt for a monthly bill.
Waasdorp, who has raised funds for international organizations in more than a dozen countries, says that EFT is the most popular payment method in Europe but has not caught on stateside.
“However, offering EFT and a monthly credit-card option is a practical choice when soliciting U.S.-based donors,” Waasdorp says. “The old-fashioned method of sending monthly billing statements can be expensive and certainly results in a lower retention rate.”
Once donors feel comfortable with the regular giving relationship, it’s easy to upgrade them.
McCabe says that for one particular program, when a donor has contributed enough small gifts in one year to total $500, he is invited to join a group that gives $1,000 or more. About 10 percent to 20 percent accept the invitation, he notes.