Sustaining Your Sustainers: Taking Your Monthly Giving Program to the Next Level
Remember, if it's too difficult for the convenience-motivated donors to update their information and stay connected, they will not bother to try again. Before you know it, the tide quickly starts eroding the monthly giving file! So make sure your website has an online form for donors to easily update their information. And consider mobile messaging as an even more immediate vehicle.
Some organizations brand their monthly giving clubs with a name and logo, and even a special purpose for their support. Special events, premiums and other benefits can be offered. While these methods can be effective, they are not essential. If budgets are tight and resources limited, it's best to focus them on communications that touch each monthly donor and communicate the impact of monthly support.
Another wasted opportunity occurs when development staffers feel reluctant to "bother" monthly givers with additional appeals, leaving revenue on the table. Just as with stewardship, you should thoughtfully create an annual solicitation plan for your recurring givers.
Don't be afraid to ask for additional gifts and upgrades — many of these donors were previously your best multiple gift givers. Plan one or two integrated upgrade campaigns per year, utilizing mail, phone, email and mobile giving. If a donor has recently joined the program or upgraded his or her monthly giving, that donor can be excluded from the current campaign.
Send one or two additional gift appeals per year as well, especially at important times like year-end. Monthly donors want to participate in major campaigns and feel like they are a part of the organization's success. Because their giving is automatic, they can lose the conscious satisfaction that philanthropy affords — and will enjoy making an extra gift or two.
Unfortunately, complainers often make themselves heard, and fundraising staffers can worry that they might be offending all their monthly donors with yet another ask. Give recognition in the appeal that your sustainers are important members of the family, accommodate those few who want to opt out and ask. The results will surprise you. Calibrate the frequency based on results, but don't wait too long between appeals. If, for instance, a year goes by before another ask is made, the organization can end up with less annual revenue from a previously loyal donor who gave multiple annual gifts. More backsliding.