3 Best Year-End Approaches for Monthly Donors
As you’re growing your number of monthly donors over time, it’s important to consider how you should include your monthly donors in your year-end giving.
Of course, every organization is different, but it’s important to remember one thing:
Unless you promised your sustainer that they would not hear from you in any way shape or form or if the donor asked you to suppress them from any future communications, these wonderful committed donors will love to hear from you.
Here are my top three approaches for monthly donors for your consideration:
1. Include Monthly Donors in Year-End/Holiday Appeals
Now, year-end, holiday timeframe is definitely a good time to reach out to your sustainers. I recommend including them in your personal note group if at all possible. Take just a minute to write a personal thank you note on the appeal you’re sending them. It can be as simple as:
“Thank you so much for your monthly gifts. You really make a difference. I’m sharing this year-end appeal with you in case you’d like to consider an extra gift. You’re doing so much and we’re so grateful. Thank you again!“
— Your name
If your number of monthly donors has grown to the number (typically 250+) where personal notes are not possible, consider a lasered note, done by your mail house/lettershop. It’s still a separate version, but it will stand out and it’s one additional opportunity for you to say thank you to your sustainers. And the best part is that many monthly donors will make that extra gift.
2. Mirror What You’re Doing for Your Major Donors
I’m all about keeping things as simple and doable as possible. So, if you have created a special year end approach for your major donors, consider including your monthly donors in that same approach. For example, if you’re sending a Thanksgiving or Holiday or Christmas card, why not send one to your sustainers? Yes, it’ll cost a bit of extra money, but it’s also one extra touch of gratefulness.
3. Include Sustainers in Email Messaging
By all means, do send your #GivingTuesday emails and any other year-end and holiday email messaging to your monthly donors. You should have a special segment for them in your email program. Do include a short thank you message, which can be as simple as: “Thank you for your monthly gifts. They make a difference. Let me share this story with you today…”
And then go for the year-end ask. You’ll find that your sustainers are more engaged, more likely to open your emails and they’ll be willing to make a special gift if you ask them.
Any time you have a match, I highly encourage you to include your existing sustainers in the appeal—as long as you recognize them as giving monthly.
One final point to remember: if one of your year-end emails is focused on generating new monthly donors, of course you would always exclude your existing ones. I give monthly to a substantial number of organizations and nothing “irks” me more than that the organization never acknowledges my monthly gifts or sends me an invite to make a monthly gift. You should know better!
Finally, people ask me if this is a good time to upgrade monthly gifts. I’ve found that it’s better to ask for an extra gift at year-end and hold on the upgrades till January/February. You’ll raise more money that way.
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.