Study: Direct Payment Via ACH Improves Donor Retention
One of the toughest challenges in our sector is getting donors to give time and time again—to get one-time donors to become repeat donors. Perhaps it’s showing donors the impact that the organization is making or having a mission powerful enough for donors to want to be a part of the organization. Perhaps simplifying the giving process just might get these donors to give more than once. Organizations can do this by implementing a comprehensive sustainer program. According to a case study, the key to creating a sustainer program is to promote direct payment through ACH, an electronic network at the center of commerce in the U.S.
Capital Public Radio (CapRadio) implemented its sustainer program in the late 1990s, but it wasn’t until 2010 that the organization gave donors the option of direct payment through ACH. CapRadio’s sustainer program is a monthly donation to the organization. The donor does not have to commit for a full 12 months—they have the option of opting out anytime they'd like. The organization labeled its program as “evergreen” and encourages direct payment through ACH as its preferred method of payment through all its communication channels, including online donation forms, segmented emails during on-air campaigns, direct mail and email renewals and appeals to former sustainers.
The study said “the growth in donations since then has been consistent and impressive.” In 2010, donations totaled $3.4 million (28 percent from sustaining members). Fast-forward six years—in 2016, donations totaled $4.9 million (51 percent from sustaining members).
Here are some additional results from the case study:
- CapRadio has 17,543 sustaining members, 13,163 (75 percent) of whom are donating through ACH.
- Of all individual donations, 41 percent were received from sustaining members donating through ACH.
- The average retention rate was 95 percent of all sustaining members donating through ACH and 81 percent for those not donating through ACH.
The study listed four tips for launching a sustainer program:
- Offer direct payment through ACH as the default payment option.
- Make sure the donor understands they are signing up for an ongoing monthly donation.
- Provide information on how to donate through ACH through all communication platforms (direct mail, email, newsletters and on-air and phone membership campaigns).
- Express your gratitude to sustaining donors.
These are rather impressive results, but it's good to not that the study was published by NACHA (the association for electronic payments providers).
Does your organization currently offer a sustainer program, and does it offer direct payment through ACH? Let us know your thoughts!