How Can We Unconfuse Monthly Donors?
As a monthly donor, I support many organizations. Frankly, until I sit down at the end of the year to prepare for my taxes, I don’t even know how many great nonprofits I give monthly to.
Organizations I support fall into the categories of animal welfare, environmental advocacy, human services and religion.
I have a hard time remembering why I started supporting every individual organization, but I know it was for a good reason and the organization made a great case to give monthly at the time.
I used to know what every organization did and how they helped, but lately, I’m getting more and more confused.
I receive emails from animal welfare organizations that are suddenly started protecting the environment. I get emails and appeals from environmental organizations that have now started to protect animals. Homeless organizations are starting to help with health care, and veterans’ organizations are offering homeless services. International relief organizations start talking about climate protection and so on.
If you asked me what some of the big organizations stand for, I wouldn’t be able to answer you. And I’m in the “business” of working with nonprofits!
I get it! Some types of messages work better than others. Some types of missions get more support than others. If I add a puppy to a letter about a homeless person, response does go up. (Yes, I’ve seen that to be the case!)
But is that what you’re known for now? Does that mean a homeless shelter should now start taking in animals, too?
That would not be a smart move for the organization.
Let me ask you this. Does your (monthly) donor know what you stand for? Does he or she know what you do well? Do you have one big message you send to your donors and potential donors to convince them to support you and that is the one big “mission” you’ll continue to serve?
It seems to me that there is so much “mission creep” seeping into organizations now and in the long run, it doesn’t serve you and it doesn’t serve the donors. And especially with monthly donors, if they start seeing things that don’t fit with what they originally signed up to support, chances are they’ll leave.
A lot is written about the benefits of donor surveys. I received three alone just this past week. So I recommend doing a survey amongst your donors and see what they think you do and stand for.
And if your donors are confused, maybe it’s time to clear that up and take a closer look at your mission, communications and messaging. Because after all, your donors must believe you’re doing what you say you’re going to do. They want to help you solve that problem you’re there to solve. But it must be clear what that problem is otherwise your donors simply don’t know what to do.
Confused donors typically put off giving decisions or if they’re already giving, they’ll leave. Is that what you want?
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is author of the book "Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant." 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 just co-authored the "Monthly Giving Starter and Marketing Kit" with Donor Perfect, and she’s working on her next book called "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 cat, Mientje.