Go the Distance for Your Monthly Donors
As you may know, I travel a fair amount. And when I do, I typically travel light and bring my bag on the plane. But when I fly somewhere to present a workshop, I need my “props,” extra handouts, etc. So, I check my bag and hope the bag gets to the destination the same time I do.
And I must admit, especially with weather delays, I’m waiting nervously at baggage claim, hoping and praying my bag made it!
I know that the airlines have been doing this for a long time. They have the systems in place. They know what they’re doing and very rarely does anything go wrong. And I even know that if my bag does show up late, they’ll bring it to my house or destination free of charge. It’s a wonderful service.
The airlines are asking me to “trust the system.”
Well, that’s exactly what you ask your monthly donors to do when they sign up for a sustainer program. When they fill out that form and hit “submit,” it’s usually straightforward. You send an automatic thank-you message and a subsequent follow-up email confirming the donor’s commitment as a sustainer.
But what’s your “system” when the donor downloads the form you have on your website and sends it in the mail? Or when the donor responds to a monthly donor appeal in the mail? What happens if he or she gives you a call?
Are you set up to process that monthly gift right away? Are you set up to send out an immediate thank-you letter? Do you get the message from the person answering the phone or does it sit on a desk somewhere? What’s the response if a donor calls and asks to join monthly?
These things sound silly—I realize that. But it’s where sometimes “systems” break down.
I heard a story recently where the person answering the phone told the donor to go online and set up the monthly gift themselves. Not that sustainer-friendly, right? Instead, just take the payment information and do it for the donor, so there’s no delay or hesitation—or worse, no sustainer sign-up.
You just “saved” one sustainer, $255 a year!
So, if you’re committed to your monthly donor program, make sure you map out and evaluate your “systems” on a regular basis and make sure it all works.
Because you want to give the donor that complete and utter feeling that their donation is sure to get to its destination, so it can support your mission and programs.
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.