Keep Moving Toward More Monthly Donors
“If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
I love this quote because it’s so very true, especially when it comes to sustainers—no matter where you are in your monthly donor program.
If you have a small number of them, you always want to be moving toward growing that number: to the next 50, to the next 100 or, perhaps, to the next 1,000, but moving you must.
I’m also a strong believer of writing down your “moving” goal and developing a plan to get there. There’s something truly magical about writing down goals because you will indeed get there.
Let me share a personal example with you about the power of moving and goals. Last year, my husband and I wrote down our goal weight, and we made some changes in our eating habits. It took us six months to get there. Then, we wrote down the next goal and guess what? We’re very close!
How did we get there? Through a combination of moving away from pasta, moving towards salads and protein, and moving more through exercise. I’ve come to really love my Barre classes at 6 a.m. (Yes, I know, I must be nuts, but 16 pounds lighter, I feel so much better). And I do still reward myself with a little chocolate every night—yum.
I am also a realist. Set an achievable goal.
So, for you as a nonprofit, if you only have 1,000 donors to begin with, a goal of 1,000 sustainers is just not realistic, but 50 should be very doable. Evaluate how you’re doing every few months, and then tweak your approach. If your first email did great, add a second one and another one. Just chip away at it.
If you have a more established sustainer program, growing is still very important, but you also want to work towards moving them up to higher levels. Now is a good time to send a letter and an email to ask your established sustainers for an increase in their monthly gift. And by all means, give them a call, say thank you, have a conversation and tell them how an increase can do even more!
Send a survey, and get great feedback. Include a question about how often they’d like to hear from you and test asking for an increase as part of the survey as long as you can accommodate online upgrades.
I realize that you’re busy, and you get pulled in so many directions. But if you can just keep moving the needle with your sustainers, you’ll be in a great spot half a year or a year from now!
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.