Your Case for Monthly Giving Success: What You Need to Get Started
What's the one thing that your organization can do to truly connect with your donors on a deeper level, lead to greater bequest giving and grow your sustainable income—all at the same time? If you guessed monthly giving, you're right!
But, in a LinkedIn survey I conducted, a full 31 percent of those who responded noted that their organizations did not offer monthly giving. Twenty-nine percent indicated that, yes, their organizations have monthly sustainer programs, but very few participate. And only 22 percent of respondents indicated that they enjoyed the benefits of a robust monthly giving program.
Monthly donors show donor retention rates of 90 percent and up. Compare that to the sector’s standard donor retention of 45 percent and below.
With focus and commitment, your monthly giving is relatively easy to implement (and grow)!
Here's All You Need to Get Started
1. The capability to offer electronic funds transfer (EFT) and/or credit card payments.
One organization I interviewed offers its monthly giving program solely via direct mail and a sign-up form provided by the bank. If your organization isn't set up to accept recurring credit card donations, the beauty of EFT is that the retention rate tends to be higher than other methods because there are no expired credit cards.
2. A "product" to offer your donors.
What does their $10 or $20 a month buy? Feeding America notes that "every $1 of your monthly gift will help to provide $9 worth of food through [our] network of food banks." UNICEF gives a compelling reason for donors to give monthly: "Monthly giving provides a steady and cost-effective source of income to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. And because your monthly donation is processed automatically, you help us reduce our costs—which allows us to fund more programs and help more children." The organization also lets donors know that "$15 a month (50¢ per day) can provide 12 packets of high-energy biscuits specially developed for malnourished children."
Paint a picture in the donor's mind. Get specific and get creative.
3. A donor base.
Begin by targeting those donors who already have demonstrated a commitment to your organization, either by a history of loyal giving or more than one gift in the last fiscal year. Get your board members "on board." Introduce them to your e-mail list.
Have a solid plan in place to steward your monthly donors well. The care and feeding of monthly donors is a big question in many people's minds. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve signed up for various monthly giving programs, only to fall off the communications grid. By all means continue to communicate. And, yes, that even includes additional asks. Always creating separate appeals that speak to your donor’s special commitment.
Donor retention expert Lisa Sargent recommends sending out special versions of your regular communications, offering special opportunities (events, guided tours, president's breakfasts, etc.) and saying thank you—a lot.
Does your organization offer monthly giving, but you've found that it's languishing, with few new sign-ups? Spend some time surveying your current monthly donors to find out why they give. Turn their comments into a "testimonial" sheet. Segment your database, and develop a targeted mailing for the sole purpose of recruiting new monthly donors that includes the "testimonial" note with your mailing.
Include those testimonials on your website as well to encourage new monthly gifts.
Review your monthly giving program every year with an eye to growing it. And always consider the lifetime value of your donor.
Pamela Grow is the publisher of The Grow Report, the author of Simple Development Systems and the founder of Simple Development Systems: The Membership Program and Basics & More fundraising fundamentals e-courses. She has been helping small nonprofits raise dramatically more money for over 15 years, and was named one of the 50 Most Influential Fundraisers by Civil Society magazine, and one of the 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants by The Michael Chatman Giving Show.