10 Things I Learned From 30 Years in Sustainer Giving, Part 2
In a previous article, I shared the first two things I learned during my 30 years of working on sustainer programs. Most of this is not rocket science, but it’s important to keep in mind when you’re looking to grow or retain your sustainers. Here are my next two lessons.
3. Operations Is Your Friend
When I started in sustainer giving, there were no models, no fancy reports and certainly no special sustainer dashboards. Everything had to be programmed. It was especially crucial to work closely with my colleagues in operations and systems. It was particularly important to make sure that you involved them early, often and you got to know their personalities, interests and funny bones.
My first sustainer experience involved monthly donors in six countries, different payment systems, tapes with payment information and more. Those were fun times. One of my favorites was a woman in the systems department. Whenever I came to her with a problem or a request for a report, she’d say, “It can’t be done!” Instead of getting angry, I’d just ask her to think about it. More often than not, 10 minutes later the phone would ring, and she’d say, “I’ve figured it out!” Having a friendly relationship with operations where both parties know that you, as the fundraiser, are not trying to make things difficult or create the next new thing always helps!
4. Curiosity Is a Virtue
I learn from fundraisers like you, who try new things. I’ve joined 40-plus organizations as a monthly donor so that I can see what organizations are doing. What are they sending? How are they addressing me? How are they upgrading me? How often am I receiving something?
I also am an avid direct mail scanner and email collector. I love anything to do with statistics and trends on sustainer giving. And if there’s something I haven’t written about yet, please don’t hesitate to let me know so that I can cover it. The more curious we are together, the more money we raise for the nonprofits we care about, work for and whose missions we support.
Editor's Note: This is the second part of a five-part series, 10 Things I Learned From 30 Years in Sustainer Giving. Each part contains two lessons.
10 Things I Learned From 30 Years in Sustainer Giving
Part 1: Details Can Make and Break Your Program and No Room for Silos
Part 2: Operations Is Your Friend and Curiosity Is a Virtue
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals. She authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving — in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and a cat, Mientje.