More Recurring Gifts From Digital Approaches
Every year, Blackbaud’s donorCentrics Sustainer Benchmarking group meets and evaluates information on recurring gifts. This year was no exception.
Face-to-face/door-to-door fundraising, also known as canvassing, came to a screeching halt during COVID-19. For organizations that picked those strategies back up again in late 2020, the good news is the number of sustainers is up and retention rates are also up.
Let’s take a look at the growth trend. The image below shows that 17% of all donors are giving recurring gifts in FY20, but they make up 25% of total revenue. This is from all channels for the 31 organizations in the study.
Fundraisers ask me this a lot: “What percentage of my donors can I expect to give monthly?” If you’re looking to find a goal to strive for, 17% of all donors giving monthly is a great one!
Of course, you’re not going to get there right away. Start with where you are now and go up from there. Take an inventory of where you are now and then see if you can double your goal and keep doubling it.
In comparison, the “M+R Benchmarks 2021” found that 19% of online giving comes from monthly donors.
The next question fundraisers often ask me: “What’s the best channel to use to generate new monthly donors?” The answer here is that digital is great, often very affordable and very doable. And you see from the graphic below that last year, digital was the leading source, especially during the pandemic.
Those organizations that really focused and stepped up their emails to invite monthly donors grew. Those organizations that added paid digital ads grew even more.
But as you can see, that still leaves 29% coming from other sources. Direct mail is still very much alive. Direct mail, online and telemarketing combined are even more powerful.
It’s important to remember that this study is based upon 31 larger organizations. Some of the more expensive channels, like DRTV and canvassing, are simply not affordable for smaller and mid-size nonprofits yet.
So, start with those channels you have and the channels you can afford. Start with what you can control, and grow from there.
What if you stepped up your game a bit and added a sustainer invite email once a month instead of once a year? What if you stepped up your game a bit and organized a monthly donor drive four times a year instead of once?
What if you stepped up your game a bit and tried some Google ads focused on monthly gifts? What if you stepped up your game a bit and used some video in your emails and social media? What if you used some of your social media to direct donors to that monthly-only donation page?
You won’t know until you try, right?
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.