What Do Monthly Giving, Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Have in Common?
You may now know that I’m a Dutch immigrant. I just celebrated my 25th anniversary being in this beautiful country! I still remember Apr. 10, 1993, when I flew from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Boston Logan via Bangor, Maine, where we had to stop to refuel because Logan was closed by fog. It was a tremendous feeling when I was able to walk in with my immigration papers. (I became a U.S. citizen in 2008, by the way.)
So, it was only fitting to celebrate by taking care of that item on my bucket list: visit Mount Rushmore, a tremendous monument in South Dakota—a 7-hour drive from Denver.
It was early enough in the season that the crowds weren’t there yet. With still some snow on the ground, we had plenty of time to walk around. It was truly majestic.
Can you just imagine how they created this? This was done decades before computers even existed!
Just a few miles away is another great monument still being worked on today called Crazy Horse. It’s privately funded, but absolutely beautiful, and worth the trip.
So, what do these two monuments have in common?
The sculptors were totally committed. They had the vision, and they chipped away at it—bit by bit, day after day, year after year.
They knew what they wanted the end result to be. And in the case of Crazy Horse, the commitment and vision are carried on by the next generation. Slowly, but surely, the vision is coming alive and the memorial grows.
I realize that monthly giving can at times feel like that. We’re trained to want to see fast results. But we also know that working on big donations takes time. Things that are good and beautiful take time and hard work. So why would you expect that your monthly donor program will be a one-shot approach? A try it once and that’s that?
It’s a constant chipping away at it. Asking at every opportunity. I was talking to a big national nonprofit the other day, and she indicated that monthly giving truly permeates the whole organization. They ask at every opportunity and in every channel, and they’ve become one of the leading very healthy nonprofits, sustainable because of their vision years ago to chip away at monthly donors.
What’s your vision to become sustainable, and how will you chip away at it? Just think of the majestic results!
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.