Alert: Segment Your Monthly Donors, and Do It Right
As I’m working on my presentation for the Bridge Conference on “Flip or Flop,” what has worked and what hasn’t worked in monthly giving, I came across a few examples of what not to do.
I’m not going to name names, but let me just say that all three examples come from big organizations. All three organizations have big sustainer programs. All three organizations have staff dedicated to their monthly giving programs.
I’m a monthly donor to all three of them and have been for quite some time. So here are three examples of what to watch out for because they didn’t make me feel special at all.
The first organization continues to send me asks to become a monthly donor. They don’t include anywhere ever that they know that I’m already a monthly donor. The funny thing is that they have sent me monthly donor upgrade request, so they must know who and what I am. It’s certainly not a great monthly donor experience.
The second organization recently sent me an email telling that I qualified me as a non-donor. YIKES. Really, I’m a non-donor at $12 a month? Why on earth would I give a special gift if you’re not even recognizing my ongoing monthly contributions?
I reached out to the organization, and it turns out that they had had some staff turnover and the new staff didn’t realize which segments they were reaching out to. They were in somewhat of a hurry, so no time to dot all the I’s and cross the T’s. Hopefully this was a one-time event and will not happen again.
It’s good to remember that donors do realize when things go wrong, but it’s also important to take action right away (i.e. do damage control). If something like this ever happens to you in your organization, I highly recommend a special warm/fuzzy apology email, perhaps by calling me a super donor.
Finally, the third organization reached out to me asking me to renew my monthly gift. Huh? I just joined a few months ago. What happened here?
All these examples could come from three possible organizational problems or a combination of the three:
- The monthly donors are not flagged, and/or they’re not moved to a separate email group for special recognition on a regular basis.
- Those in charge of sending emails are not cued in enough about the value and importance of reaching out to monthly donors in a special way, or it’s too complicated. This can happen if there are multiple sources and systems tracking types of donors.
- Organizations consist of multiple departments that don’t understand (yet) that monthly donors could come from any and all sources and how important good processes are to recognize the need for special segmentation, tracking and, ultimately, better sustainer recognition.
“Believe you me,” I get it. I work with clients every day who are trying to streamline and organize their monthly donor processes. It’s not easy, but let’s set a goal of segmenting your monthly donors in your donor base and email deployment program. And when you do, organize an internal education session with all groups ‘touching’ or reaching out to monthly donors, so they’ll realize the importance of the special recognition they so highly deserve.
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.