Monthly Giving Webinar Questions Answered, Part III
In January, three fundraising professionals came together in a FundRaising Success webinar titled “Everything You Need to Know About Obtaining and Retaining Monthly Donors.” Though our pros were able to answer a number of the questions posed by the more than 100 attendees, they couldn’t get to all of them. So they took the time to answer many of those unanswered questions after the webinar ended.
Over the past two weeks, you heard from two of our presenters; this week, it’s Jodi Scheib, vice president, fundraising, DMW Worldwide.
Click here to read answers provided two weeks ago by Linda King, sustaining membership coordinator/Leadership Circle coordinator at the Iowa Public Television Foundation; and here to read answers provided last week by Brian Cowart, senior director of mail acquisition and donor retention at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. If you’d like to access the entire webinar online, click here for access and pricing information.
Q: If you are not a membership organization, do you still recommend monthly donors? Do you see that monthly pledges are always in the small, less than $100 range? What is the minimum? How much do you customize?
Jodi Scheib: Monthly giving programs can be very effective in both member-based and donor organizations. This type of program increases the average gift and lifetime value of the donor and creates a reliable revenue stream for future years. And, as an added benefit, it identifies excellent planned-giving prospects in your donor base!
Typically, we see monthly gifts ranging between $2 and $20 per month. This varies greatly depending on the type of organization. Many organizations do place a minimum amount on the monthly gifts they will process (typically between $2 and $5).
Customization depends on the size of your donor file and your organization’s budget for the program. Try and customize with methods where additional customization does not increase cost, such as telemarketing and outbound e-mail initiatives. In direct mail, where customization may not be financially viable, make sure you customize the actual ask amount based on each donor’s giving history.
Q: How many additional mailings/appeals is appropriate for a committed monthly donor?
JS: The number of additional gift appeals/mailings you send to a committed monthly donor depends on your organization-specific needs and any pertinent or timely cases for giving that might present themselves throughout the year. While some organizations might send up to 10 additional appeals to each monthly donor, many organizations send between two and four appeals throughout the year. These appeals include requests for upgrades, one-time additional gift appeals, acknowledgements/receipts with additional funds requests, and planned-giving information.
When creating your annual plan for monthly donors, ask yourself a few questions:
1. Will our annual schedule of appeals/mailings conflict with the case we presented to donors for joining this group? For example, did you stress that the benefit of joining such a program would be that the donor would receive less mail?
2. How many cultivation or accountability pieces are you sending to these donors? Are all correspondences with these donors requesting additional funds? Are you reporting back to them the impact that their commitment has had?
Q: Are you concerned that we are locking people in at lower gift amounts and then losing the ability to upgrade them?
JS: Historical donor performance shows that donors are more likely to “move” off of a monthly gift than an annual gift. For example, a donor will more likely move from $5 a month to $7 a month than she would be to migrate from $60 a year to $80 a year.
Q: What percentage of donors give [via electronic funds transfer] versus credit card?
JS: This really depends on the type of organization, the demographic layout of the file and how the program is being marketed.
Q: How effective is EFT? How do you get an older constituent base to buy into that?
JS: EFT is a very effective method for monthly donors. Typically, EFT monthly donors have a higher retention than do credit card monthly donors. (People tend to change credit cards much more often than bank accounts!) Marketing this program to an older constituent can be more difficult. Using telemarketing to explain the program and highlighting the ease of EFT as an option are two techniques that can be effective. Testing different methods for your organization will be the best way to determine the most effective way to encourage your constituents to support [you] via EFT.
Q: Is it customary to send monthly or annual acknowledgements? Do you include an option to upgrade in acknowledgements?
JS: Many organizations send an annual tax-receipt/acknowledgement (and promote that as a benefit of the program) but also send “handwritten,” personalized thank-you notes quarterly to touch base with these loyal donors. I do recommend including an additional gift or upgrade option on these annual acknowledgements.
Q: What is your experience with door-to-door and street canvassing? Retention/attrition and overall value?
JS: Door-to-door or street canvassing became popular in the U.K. several years ago. The two key factors to a successful door-to-door program are well-trained/well-versed volunteers and name recognition of your organization. While some success with this type of marketing was seen internationally, the overall retention rate of these donors was so low that many organizations found that their investment was better spent in telemarketing or direct-mail appeals for a monthly giving program.