Take Action Right Away to Improve Your Monthly Donor Retention
Over the past few weeks, I’ve presented numerous webinars on monthly giving. I’ve also had lots of conversations with organizations asking them about their challenges with their monthly donor retention.
And the No. 1 problem is expiring credit cards. When that happens it’s really important to remember the following: The donors did not call you to cancel their commitment! They want to continue giving monthly!
They may have just received their new card and don’t realize that their monthly gift doesn’t continue unless they give you the updated information.
Use everything in your power to get that update as soon as possible, so there’s no lapse in payment.
So, make it easy on the donor and remind them to give you that update. And make it easy on yourself.
Talk to your donor base and online processor, and see if they can set up account updater for you. The cost is literally peanuts and your monthly donors continue without a problem. Right now, you’ll look at capturing about 25 percent to 30 percent of expiring cards that way.
Pick the same date each month that works best for you to sit down and review what’s going on. Some systems will tell you which cards are about to expire, others will not tell you until the card expired or declined. Then have your plan of action ready.
- Send a letter with reply form and reply envelope.
- Send an email with a link to monthly donor page to update and/or phone number (especially if you can’t include the update link, as not every system makes it that easy to do yet or requires a manual update process).
- Make a phone call and try to speak to the donor live and leave a message if you can’t reach them.
- Repeat the above. If you have account updater, try it again next month as there can be a time lag.
And to make your life a bit easier, I’ve created a little phone script to use as part of my brand new “Monthly Donor Retention Play Book.” See below.
You have to do all of the above to be able to reach the donor in every way possible. Then, see what happens.
Don’t wait to send the letter till you get them on the phone or receive a reply via email. You don’t want to miss any payments. You may not have phone numbers for everybody. You may not have emails for everybody.
And always track the impact by annualizing the donor’s revenue. How much could you stand to lose every year if your monthly donors drop out. How much annual revenue did you just keep by getting the donor’s updated information? If you look at it, that way, it’ll be totally worth a few stamps and some time to chase, and your monthly donor retention rates will flourish!
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is author of the book "Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant." 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 just co-authored the "Monthly Giving Starter and Marketing Kit" with Donor Perfect, and she’s working on her next book called "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 cat, Mientje.
You can reach Erica at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (508) 776-1224.