Encourage Monthly Giving During Uncertain Times
There I was, sitting on a plane on my way to a presentation. But when I landed, I found out the committee had just canceled the meeting. Not the end of the world, so I made the best of it, did a bit of sightseeing, practiced social distancing, and got caught up on some work and some books.
Of course, it’s all about being safe and staying healthy. That’s the number one priority, and I totally understand.
But it made me think about what happened 19 years ago on September 11. People were not prepared then, and they aren’t prepared for what is happening now.
If you were around then, you’ll probably remember exactly where you were. I was at work in my upstairs office when a friend called checking to see if I was safe. I hadn’t even turned on the TV yet.
If you were not around or not working in nonprofits, let me give you an idea of the fundraising climate then. Email was still early days. Social media didn’t really exist yet and was certainly not yet used for fundraising. Events had to be canceled. Some nonprofits couldn’t get out in the mail for months, and this was just the start of the heavy fundraising season.
The country was at a standstill for a while as we were all mourning the thousands who were killed at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania (not to mention the many first responders impacted afterwards).
Just before, I had worked at a nonprofit, managing and growing their monthly giving program in six countries. The organization loved the ongoing revenue, but didn’t understand how important it really was.
There was always a struggle between short-term and long-term income. Get more one-time gifts or focus on generating more monthly donors, providing that long-term sustainable money so needed.
Then 9/11 happened and, boy, did that change the thinking. Because even with the mail put on hold, these wonderful little monthly donors’ gifts kept coming in. It sustained the organization.
Needless to say, since then, the thinking has remained changed and more resources were put toward generating monthly donors.
Of course, it’s a bit late now to be ahead of pandemic. But if you’re working from home and not busy organizing an event, take this time to revisit your plans and see where you can fit in monthly giving messaging. Stay the course with your mail (people will have more time to read it), but take a look at your email messaging and social media.
Can you focus a month-long campaign on asking donors to consider giving a small gift 12 months a year? Can you reach out to your event donors and ask them to contribute to a virtual monthly giving event? Offer your donors to break up their big gift in smaller chunks.
Then annualize the revenue you generate from this campaign, and see where you land. Just think, 100 new monthly donors can be worth $28,800 a year. That may be more than your event would have generated to begin with!
I’m not saying that it’s going to be easy to generate 100 new monthly donors for your organization, but you’re nor going to get there by not trying.
So much has changed since 9/11, but ultimately, you need donors of all levels to help your nonprofit sustain your mission! The animals, people, clients, children need you! We’re all in this together, and we’re here 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.