Protect Your Monthly Donors
I’ve seen this happen several times in different ways.
Donation platforms and donor base companies merge.
A community foundation providing donation form support for organizations decides it is not their focus any longer. Nonprofits had to scramble and find a payment processor and the best forms to use quickly.
And now with the GoFundMe announcement, what will organizations do if they just transitioned not too long ago? According to the announcement, “GoFundMe Charity is uniting with GoFundMe.com to bring personal and charity fundraising together under GoFundMe.com.” This means that GoFundMe Charity will cease online fundraising on September 30, 2021. Moving forward, campaigns will not automatically be transferred, but campaigns can be recreated on GoFundMe.com.
For one-time gifts, the change of a payment provider may not be the end of the world. You’ve received your donations and the payments. You’re all set. But if those providers also process your monthly donor gifts, you have a bigger and more urgent problem.
Will you be able to get the donor’s payment information? Or do you have to get donors to recommit by clicking into a new system? If you have to do the latter, that’s OK, but it would be ideal if you had some time to do so to ensure that nobody falls through the cracks.
Sometimes, the problem can be even bigger. Do you even know who your monthly donors are? Do you have their information?
That’s why I typically recommend staying away from crowdfunding platforms that will not give you the donor’s information, especially for monthly gifts. It’s not a good situation and here’s why: Your donors do not know that you don’t know who they are. They think they’re donating to your organization. They’re wondering why they’re not hearing from you.
That’s why I typically recommend having some type of contract with a payment provider. What’s your recourse if they stop? These are your recurring donors we’re talking about.
Unless there’s a secondary payment processor you can continue to have access to (like Stripe), you’re really out in left field.
I typically recommend having monthly gifts go through your forms on your site, so you at least know who they are so you can at least contact them to opt-in to a new system if you choose to do so.
You can send emails, make phone calls, write letters, explain why you’re moving, especially if this allows you to be more flexible, so funds can continue to support your mission.
Monthly donors want to continue to help, but you also may need to give this process a bit of time. So before you jump into the latest cool, exciting, free or almost free tool, think for a minute.
Get references. Check what the process is if you wanted to move away or if they merge or close.
You put a lot of effort into your monthly donors, and by now, I sure hope it’s starting to pay off nicely. Make sure it stays that way!
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.