4 Examples of How Things Can Go Wrong With Monthly Gifts
As you may know, I’ve been scanning and tracking examples of monthly giving approaches and follow ups for years. There are so many wonderful ways nonprofits ask for monthly donors. So many tremendous examples of saying thank you in the most grateful of ways. There’s so much that goes right with monthly giving and the results are showing!
But every now and then, I see some goofs. I’m not going to name names, but you probably know who you are when you read this. I’m sharing these mistakes because I hope you will not make them in your organization. Most of these are easy fixes. It’s all about the details. Test before you send.
So, let’s start with four examples of how things can go wrong.
Mistake 1: Saying thank you for a one-time gift when it was in fact a monthly gift.
I recently joined this organization with $5 a month. I had sent in the reply form, ticked all the relevant boxes and filled in my credit card information. Next, I received a thank you letter for my $5 one-time gift. Not a peep about my wonderful commitment to give a monthly gift.
Really, how did this happen?
Mistake 2: Not personalizing the email thank you.
That same organization processed my monthly gift online. Virtually the same day as receiving the thank you letter, I received a thank you email confirming my monthly gift, but they forgot one important thing in the email. They did not add my first name.
The email said: "Undecided, thank you for your monthly gift..."
Really, how did this happen? Test your thank you emails to ensure that all the fields are filled. If nothing else, make the default "Friend," so at least it sounds friendlier.
Mistake 3: Promoting a monthly gift without offering a way to sign up for it via mail.
Another organization sent me a letter asking to renew my membership. They included a special buck slip promoting monthly giving to renew, listing a monthly giving website. But, nowhere on the reply form did they include the option to fill out the information to make a monthly gift.
Sounds like a missed opportunity to me!
Mistake 4: Send a thank you email for one-time gift after lightbox conversion.
A wonderful way to generate new monthly donors is through a pop up/lightbox after the donor completes their one-time donation. There’s a short ask to nudge the donor to make a monthly gift instead. I hit submit and made this a monthly gift of $10, but what happened next was bad.
I got a thank you for a one-time gift and was told that my monthly gift wasn’t going to get charged until a month from now. Then I went into the welcome stream as a new donor and received additional requests to become a monthly donor. I did not start being recognized for my monthly gifts until a month after. Talking about donor confusion.
Monthly donors are special. They are committed but you want to start off the relationship the right way. Test the process and make sure it works. I hope you’ll not make these mistakes in your organization. Happy fourth of July!
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.