Sustainer Giving Is Not the Latest Shiny New Thing
You’ve probably heard some consultants say: “It’s not about the next shiny new thing. Rather, it’s about the basics of fundraising and building relationships with donors. It’s about following the best practices first. Only after that’s done — and only then — can you start looking at some of those ‘shiny new things.'”
And I totally agree, I’m one of those consultants echoing those sentiments and advice.
But it’s important to realize that monthly giving is not the next shiny new thing. It’s been around for decades!
Monthly donors, sustainers and recurring givers have been providing ongoing support to those organizations that saw their importance and power in the last century!
What is still relatively new is that it has become so much easier to set up.
When I started in monthly giving in 1993, the nonprofit where I worked — and other pioneering organizations like Greenpeace, Save the Children, World Vision, St. Jude and the ASPCA to name just a few of the early adopters — were actively generating sponsors and monthly donors. Most of it was done via the mail, phone and some face-to-face canvassing and direct response TV. Web sites, email and social media came much later.
With the arrival of online giving, PayPal became popular, and recurring options came next. Now having the "make this a monthly gift" or "make this a recurring gift" or some version of that messaging online has become best practice. Realistically, it’s only been actively implemented in the past five years or so.
Sustainer giving is not the latest shiny new thing. Instead, it should already be part of your fundraising strategy as it will permeate all your giving and all levels of donors. It will help you keep your lights on. It will help you with your operating revenue.
All it takes is a little bit of time to focus on it. So, if you’re looking to grow your monthly donor program, make sure you’re looking at it as an important thing that can be very exciting and fun to work on, just a little bit at a time.
Just remember how monthly giving is so much more powerful than yet another new shiny thing someone throws at you, which takes boat loads of time and effort to see any results.
As a fundraiser, you’re busy. There is only so much time in the day. Where would you rather focus your next hour of time? I hope your answer is: Growing your monthly donors because it is proven, and it will pay off in the long run.
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.