Sustaining Your Sustainers: Taking Your Monthly Giving Program to the Next Level
What about the convenience-driven sustainers? The same stewardship plan can apply. It's an opportunity to treat them like the donors you want them to be, to reinforce your case in a focused way and to cultivate their interest. With these folks, more of whom are likely to be new to giving, the initial thank-you is an important touchpoint. A welcome kit that communicates the nature of the recurring giving program helps set expectations appropriately and gives donors contact information for the staff specialist who will handle their questions and requests.
The most significant factor for convenience-driven donors is to make sure the program stays convenient! Inevitably, credit card expiration dates pass, debit card payments bounce, electronic funds transfer (EFT) account numbers change, etc. If the nonprofit is not staying on top of these issues and proactively communicating with the donors, the automatic payments will suddenly dry up. Establishing internal structures for attending to file hygiene is critical to maintaining cash flow. Your dedicated staffer(s) should follow up on missed payments due to declined or expired cards promptly, with a trifecta of letters, emails and phone calls. Some organizations also use card updater services like ProPay and Litle to automatically update credit card information.
Of course, from a retention standpoint, acquiring or migrating monthly donors to EFT is the best bet. Highlight EFT as the preferred giving method wherever possible, and encourage donors to switch when contacting them about expiring credit cards. Some nonprofits even do special EFT conversion appeal mailings to all their credit card sustainers — especially in the wake of large credit card fraud scandals, when many cards are reissued. Sometimes, in these cases, drawing the attention of donors who thinks they are giving automatically can be challenging — employing "red flags" in outer envelope copy and email subject lines, such as "ATTENTION — interruption of your monthly gifts" is helpful and can be especially helpful here.