Subscriptions Are Just Not the Same
I love subscriptions. I have for years. I started out my direct mail and fundraising career working on subscriptions and loyalty programs. Subscriptions are great!
And they certainly have and continue to have a huge impact on recurring gifts. They’ve allowed people to become much more comfortable paying for things automatically. They’ve opened up automated giving to younger donors. But in my view, that’s where it ends.
Just look at this wonderful image, created by my colleagues Steven Screen and Jim Shapiro at The Better Fundraising Company. (Subscribe to their email list, and you’ll receive a great infographic to your inbox every week.)
This picture is worth a thousand words. As a variation: A recurring gift is not the same as a subscription to the latest fresh food box or streaming service.
Because the donor sets the price. Because the donor does not expect anything tangible in return. Because the donor decides why they want to support your organization and why they want to help your mission.
You, as the fundraiser, must help the donor understand just how much it takes to make a difference and just how important their (recurring) gift is. You must express your continued gratitude by sending them pictures, videos and stories on just how much they help!
You are tasked to find ways to recognize, cultivate and engage (recurring) donors so they continue to feel special. Making them feel part of a community helps.
Having a subscription focus certainly helps set up the technical parts of how donors can best make their donation and how best to pay, but there’s more to it than that.
Your thank-yous, ongoing engagement and stewardship activities play a major role. They determine why recurring donors keep on giving. They help upgrade them to higher levels and make extra gifts. Rather than think of a recurring gift as a monetary transaction or a subscription, think of it as a long-term relationship without the donor having to make a purchase. How can you make your recurring donors feel special and how can you as a fundraiser shine by doing 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.