Now Is an Exciting Time to Ask for a Monthly Gift Upgrade
If you have a sustainer program that’s been around for a few years, you must consider upgrading them at least once a year.
And while you may be hesitant, now is an excellent time to consider asking for an upgrade. Everything has become more expensive — food, pet food, gas, utilities, etc. Hence, operating your nonprofit has become more expensive as well.
Remember, donors want to help, but they are not mind-readers. Tell your donors you need them even more. Ask your donors to consider a slight increase in their monthly gift. Many may say “no,” but some may say “yes.”
Look at those monthly donors who have been giving for at least six to nine months.
- How many are there?
- What is the average monthly gift?
- Do you have email addresses for them?
Draft a special upgrade landing page with slightly increased amounts — just $2 to $3 more than your typical monthly donor page. This upgrade donation page must show the new amounts as you’re asking the donor to make an updated commitment.
Then create one email. Start with tremendous gratitude for the donor’s ongoing support. Then explain the need. You’re able to feed less children, treat fewer patients, help fewer animals, deliver fewer meals because of the current gas prices. Ask the donor to consider a slight increase of just a few dollars a month. Here, you don’t include the new amounts — just focus on the small increase.
Send the email and see what happens. How many donors go to the special page and upgrade their gift?
If you can pre-populate the donor’s information, that’s great, but don’t fret if you can’t. It’s totally OK for the donor to complete their updated information on the form. This even has a few other advantages:
- You can get their updated credit card information.
- Or, better yet, if you recently added an automatic bank transfer (ACH/EFT), the donor may consider choosing that option. Looking at the recent "The State of Modern Philanthropy 2022" from Classy. you’ll see how ACH gifts generate a higher recurring gift and you never have to worry about those pesky credit card expiration dates again, so there are two huge advantages.
After the donor completes the upgrade page, make sure you adjust the donor’s information in your donor database or platform.
The typical best practice is that you stop the old gift with a reason code of “upgrade.” Test an upgrade yourself first and make sure the process works before you go live.
You need to raise more money, right?
Consider asking your recurring donors for an upgrade. And even if they’re not ready to upgrade, you may get an extra gift. You may also get some donors to convert from credit card to ACH. You won’t know until you ask.
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.