Does the Peanut Butter or Jelly Come First in Monthly Giving?
You probably have seen me quote Seth Godin before. His blogs inspire some of mine. It’s a short one so I’ll share his full post on "The Order of Operations" because it’s so important when it comes to monthly giving:
“If you put the jelly on before the peanut butter, the sandwich will fail.
"And if you try to spread the peanut butter on the plate and then add the bread, it will fail even worse.
"Like so many things, the order is not optional.
"And yet, we often do the least scary or easiest parts first, regardless of what the order of operations tells us.”
As someone who’s been working with and on monthly donor programs for almost 30 years now, the order of operations comes up a lot. It often creates a pause or a stop in the growth of monthly donors.
Of course, we’re only human and, as fundraisers, we often tend to focus — and agonize — about things that are least important. But they’re easier. They make us feel we’re more in control.
We agonize about the benefits we want to provide new monthly donors. We worry about the name of the monthly donor program, and make it a huge — and sometimes even expensive — undertaking. We struggle with the levels of giving and want everything to be totally perfect before we even start.
Yet, the bread is already sitting in your fridge or breadbox. It’s your online payment processor.
You already have the jelly in house. It’s your email list with your donors and in-house prospects.
You should already have the peanut butter in house also. It’s your story — the words and pictures to include in an email that is then sent to your email list.
You just must start with the commitment to create your first PB&J sandwich. It’s a basic staple. Start with the bread, put on the jelly and add the peanut butter. Then just keep repeating that process and tweak the amount of peanut butter and jelly you put on. Try a bit more or a bit less, but try it you must.
Then and only then is it time to go for fancier sandwiches — add a program name, develop additional stewardship pieces beyond the basics of a thank-you email and a thank-you letter, and expand to higher levels. Let’s start with bringing in a few monthly donors, follow the right order of operations and you’ll do quite alright.
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.