Nonprofit Sustainers Are Growing Like Hot Cakes
I just got back from the 14th Bridge Conference, energized by new ideas, case studies and proven fundraising “old” basics that still work and will continue to work as long as donors are human beings.
I was privileged to co-present a first sustainer, full day, pre-conference workshop with the “Sustainer Brains”: Charlotte Davidoff, Save the Children; Josef Kottler, Sage Communications; Liz Murphy, Beaconfire Red; Cameron Popp, WETA; Phil Schmitz, Charity Engine; Polly Papsadore, PMG Direct; and yours truly.
We had an absolute blast and great fun with some 40 attendees from nonprofits all over the country! We spent most time on the operations side of the sustainer house.
One of the initial exercises was, ask why attendees give monthly, as that helps with the messaging. Interesting that even so, one person indicated that he or she would NEVER give monthly… fascinating!
I was expecting most to respond indicating that monthly giving is easy, but the majority of the reasons were: “Because I want to support the mission.”
Sixty-eight percent of the attendees thought that was most important, 32% indicated “because it’s easy.” Set it and forget it.
Nobody mentioned “because I want to join a club” or “I want to be recognized in a special way.”
While I highly recommend that you have some way to recognize your monthly donors, it’s secondary.
So, don’t spend too much time worrying about it. Pick a name you like and then move on because you want to start appealing to your donors, telling them that they can give monthly and support a cause they believe in.
Also, don’t worry too much about the benefits. You can develop them as you go along. You can “borrow” from your mid-level donor or major gift program if you have one. Donors want to make a difference. It’s nice to provide some benefits, but the more focused on the mission, the better off you are.
Finally, this message came out of miscellaneous sustainer sessions at the conference: Try something new—a new message on an ad, a new message in an email—and don’t be disappointed if an approach doesn’t work. Just try something else, but keep on trying. Many digital and email approaches cost very little, if anything. Growing your sustainer program takes time. There’s no bad way to get there, as long as you’re willing to keep at it.
You want donors to feel like they can make a difference and monthly giving offers them exactly that!
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.