A Monthly Giving How-To: It’s Not Expensive
I love hearing from nonprofit organizations that share how they’re doing with their monthly giving campaigns.
Earlier this week, a nonprofit shared its socially-distanced monthly giving video interview with me. It launched the video the day before #GivingTuesdayNow, and it already generated 20 new monthly donors. While it took a bit of time to create the video, the cost was virtually nothing, and it’s now there to be shared for quite a while.
I talked to another organization that shared how it implemented an expensive online giving platform to help them with its peer-to-peer fundraising and monthly giving, while its database could have easily handled it all. There really was no need for an extra system, and it’s now doing away with the expensive platform.
There are so many different payment processors, so many giving platforms. Some are focused on crowdfunding; others are focused on peer-to-peer. Some on online one-time and recurring gifts; others tout the huge advantage of mobile (text) giving. And then there’s PayPal and where that fits or doesn’t fit.
There are simply too many options to make a full inventory of them all. They all have pluses and minuses. But before you think about spending money to add on an expensive platform, take a step back:
- Evaluate what you can do with the online giving platform you have now.
- Evaluate what you can do with the donor base you have now.
Maybe when you first implemented the above, recurring gifts were not at the forefront of your mind. Now they absolutely must be on the top of your list.
Maybe certain decisions had been made before you came on board. Maybe your communications or marketing department owns the website, and fundraising wasn’t the focus. Sadly, I hear it all the time.
This doesn’t mean what you have in place now is wrong. It just means that you have to take another look and see what you can do with the tools you already have to make them better.
For example, if your donor base CRM can create online giving pages, but you’ve not used them for some reason, create one, test it out and see how it integrates. How easy is it to make a donation? How easy is it to make a monthly gift?
If you don’t have a recurring donation page yet, create one! Start linking to it. What will the donor receive? What does the thank-you page and thank-you email look like?
Unless you have a hugely-antiquated system, that’s not even in the cloud yet, you should be able to start with your CRM. You may not even need a separate system for your online gifts, and certainly not for your monthly gifts.
Now if you do have a separate online donation payment processor in place, see what you can do to optimize monthly giving some more. Make sure that your donation page has the one-time and recurring gift option built in. Then all you have to do is create a separate recurring-only page to link to from your emails and from the web.
I work with organizations of many different sizes. Many of them use very inexpensive database CRMs that have wonderful unlimited integrated online giving pages built in.
So please do yourself a favor: Before you start investing in expensive platforms that claim they can be the next cat’s meow, evaluate what you have in place first, and make sure everything is up to date and optimized.
Only if you’re absolutely sure that your current systems don’t work, then it is time to look at new and/or additional options. But even then, there are many very affordable ways to generate donations and monthly gifts.
In 99% of the cases I come across every day, monthly giving can be offered using the tools you already have in place. Monthly giving does not have to be expensive, and it certainly does not require any expensive platforms to make them happen.
So before you spend a lot of money, spend a little bit of time looking at your systems with some new eyes. And if you have any questions, I’m happy to help.
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.