How to Ask for an Extra Gift From Your Monthly Donors
One of my copywriter friends asked me: “Do you have a recommendation for how much to ask a monthly donor when sending them a year-end appeal asking them to make a special, year-end gift? I'm wondering if the right amount to ask the donor is the amount they give monthly?”
As you’re getting ready for fall and year-end appeals, Giving Tuesday, and other giving days for that matter, answering this question may be very relevant.
First off, I highly recommend including your monthly donors in some extra gift opportunities including Giving Tuesday, especially if you have a match. Your year-end timeframe is a great time to get that extra gift.
Recent donorCentrics Sustainer Benchmarking studies show that some 6% of monthly donors will make at least one extra gift a year when asked. I’m even seeing 12% or more, so not asking is definitely leaving money on the table.
But it’s crucial to include a thank-you message recognizing the monthly donor for their ongoing special support. Then go into the special opportunity you want to share with them.
If it’s an appeal, think of a lasered or handwritten note on top of the appeal. If an email, think of a short intro message, just a version of your email to all other donors.
But should that requested amount mirror the donor’s monthly giving amount? The answer is “no,” as that’s typically too low for a one-time gift.
For email, use your typical one-time donation forms, with or without specific examples of how the donor can make a difference with their extra, one-time gift.
When preparing for a direct mail appeal, I recommend isolating your monthly donors from other donors in your donor list and giving them a separate segment to allow for special recognition in the letter and ask.
If you’re able to mention the monthly donor’s last one-time gift, you can base it on that, but most nonprofit systems have a hard time isolating those, especially if they also have events, raffle tickets, etc. It may be some time since the donor last made a one-time gift.
Rather, your safest bet is to ask monthly donors for an extra gift of $_______. Let the donor fill in what they’re comfortable with and use the letter to indicate how gifts are making a difference.
You always want to come across as grateful and never too greedy.
Making assumptions based upon event ticket purchases or one-time gifts made years ago may not be wise. Leave the extra gift amount up to the donor and see what happens. But asking at year-end is really a must unless the monthly donor told you they do not want to hear from you.
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.