Monthly Sustainer Programs, Anyone?
I just got back from a tremendous few days in the Washington D.C. area, and I learned a lot about monthly sustainer programs.
First, I was privileged to attend the Professional Face to Face Fundraisers Association meeting, where some 75 people listened to speakers on the latest trends in face-to-face sustainer fundraising and how one nonprofit tweaked its retention to higher levels. Spoiler alert: account updater and credit card processes had a lot to do with it, as well as focusing on telephone follow-ups.
Following, I went to the Bridge Conference at the Gaylord, National Harbor, Md., where Wednesday looked like “sustainer day.” I was able to catch four sustainer sessions, including one I was presenting with Letal Zidkony from the ASPCA and Paige Grainger from Blackbaud’s Target Analytics Sustainer Benchmarking.
All sustainer sessions ran the gamut with wonderful examples, results and best practices, implemented by some larger organizations. One session was focused on how best to use digital ads and social media, one was focused on mail, phone and email, and the combination thereof. Another was focused on converting donors to monthly donors first, then going after annual auto-renewals as the next option. Knowing that you can count on that renewal every year will help you plan your cash flow better. Key is to focus on monthly first though as that will generate more money.
The overarching learning from all sustainer sessions: Get management buy-in, use multichannel approaches and ongoing focus will help you grow your sustainer program fastest!One disappointing note though: In my session, I asked for a show of hands as to how many were supporting their own organization as a monthly donor. Only a few hands went up! I hope that changes soon because it starts with you.
It’s wonderful that these so-called “sustainer power houses” are willing to share their experiences and example, so that their learning can be implemented by small to mid-size organizations right away.
Of course, every organization is different. Every organization has a different set up when it comes to number of donors, types of channels and donors who will respond differently when it comes to monthly giving. But, ultimate learning: If you’re committed to your monthly donor program, you’ll be able to grow it!
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.