Create a Monthly Donor Retention Day
OK — there’s no official monthly donor retention day (yet), but I think it’s time we started one.
After all, with Daylight Savings Time, St. Patricks’ Day, World Wildlife Day and so many other special days on the calendar, why not create yet one more special day?
Except, it should not be a special day! If you’re serious about your monthly donor program, every day should be a monthly donor retention day.
When should that day be? Well, that depends on when you (or your payment processor) charge your donors’ cards every month. If that happens on the 15th of the month, make the 16th “Monthly Donor Retention Day.”
If it happens on the 1st, make it the 2nd — basically the day after you know if your monthly donors’ cards were charged for their next monthly gift. If your program is larger, and you’re charging a few times a month, create a Monthly Donor Retention Day the next day after each charge.
Make it your focus as soon as you come into the office. Look at the list, and see if there was anybody whose payment didn’t go through.
Then pick up the phone and call. Right away!
Then sit down, and write a personal email. Right away!
And if you can’t reach your donor, and you’re not getting a response by the next day, send a letter. Better yet, just create the letter and send it. It’s a stamp that will come back to you multifold.
Of course, if your system can see a month in advance if the card is going to expire, you can take action on Monthly Donor Retention Day the month before. But most often, you will not know until it’s almost too late.
Don’t ever think you’re nagging your recurring donor. He or she did not cancel. They want to give, but they didn’t realize they have to let you know. So take action.
And yes, it is a pain to have to follow-up, but it’s worth it.
Here’s one simple trick I recommend you implement: Create a monthly-donors-at-risk tracker. How many monthly donors didn’t make their payment? How much would they give annually if they continued? That’s how much money you’re at risk of losing if you don’t do something.
You’ll see very quickly the value of a Monthly Donor Retention Day, and you’ll enjoy calling the donors and having a conversation. You may even be able to upgrade them to a higher monthly gift!
And it’s not just me saying it. This works! I interviewed a wonderful sustainer manager at an organization recently, and she simply makes a few calls every week. If she doesn’t hear back, she calls again. She sends an email and sends a letter — all the above. She told me she hasn’t lost any of her monthly donors yet because of an expiring or declining card.
So how about you? Are you ready to create that Monthly Donor Retention Day and keep more of your recurring donors for years to come? I’d love to know what happens if you do!
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.