Sustaining Your Sustainers: Taking Your Monthly Giving Program to the Next Level
Successful fundraising programs dedicate a staff person, a portion of a staff person or a team to their recurring givers. No matter the size of the staff, you must set aside time to check in regularly on your monthly donor program. Review processing issues, donor comments, consistency of messaging and anything that affects your success. A focus on constant improvement of back-end systems and internal communications pays off.
As with any donors, figuring out who these monthly donors are and what motivates them is key to retaining them and getting the most out of the relationship. Invest in a survey or focus group if you need to. I have found that recurring givers to public media generally fall into two categories: those who are driven by convenience, and investors in the long-term success of the organization. The former are attracted to the ease of giving their information once and knowing they don't have to worry about membership renewal dates. They also like the ease of spreading their annual gifts out in affordable chunks. The investors want to show their commitment, as well as see demonstrable change occur through the nonprofit's work. They care about the financial health of the organization, and they want to see the impact of their support. Of course, for some, both motivators come into play.
Either way, having a stewardship and communication plan in place that addresses these mind-sets is vital. Immediately establish a relationship with a thank-you that tells the monthly donor he or she is special and appreciated. Investors need to hear, on a regular basis, that they are valued and how their support is making a difference. Bimonthly newsletters, monthly emails and occasional letters from the CEO are all great ways to communicate impact. Donors need to be updated on the financial picture at least once a year — a letter from the chief financial officer, perhaps accompanied by the annual report, or a summary with a pie chart can fit the bill and make donors feel like true stakeholders. Make sure the importance of individual giving, and if possible recurring donations, is highlighted.