The 2 Biggest ‘Do-nuts’ in Monthly Giving
After the Super Bowl, let’s talk about something other than chicken wings or the game for a change! Time to discuss some the two biggest “do-nut dos” in monthly giving.
Trust me, I’m all for growing your monthly donor program. I’m all for making it easy for the donor! I’m all for trying to ask as often as you possibly can, but there are a few things I recommend you steer away from because they’ll make for a very bad donor experience.
As you’re looking to grow donor retention and grow that important “donor love,” you certainly don’t want that.
So here are two things I see pop up every now and then. Before you run to implement them, let me share why they may not be the best idea.
Do-nut No. 1: Do Not Pre-Populate the Monthly Giving Option.
I know some consultants recommend it because they think it increases monthly donor rates. As someone who works with clients in the back-end to audit their program and review monthly donor retention rates, I caution you: if you want the donor to have a good donor experience and you want to keep your monthly donors, don’t go that route. Don’t preset the monthly gift on the one-time form.
There’s nothing worse for a donor wanting to make a single gift, submit the form and then realizing you made a mistake and you have to call the organization to cancel your monthly gift you never meant to make. How would you feel if that happened to you?
Rather, if your system allows it, you can do other things, such as a message like: “Consider a monthly gift instead.” Or, “A monthly gift of $5 or $10 would really help!”
Alternatively, you can have the monthly gift be the first option and the single-gift option second. That works as well.
But you absolutely want the donor consciously clicking the option to give monthly. You want the donor to realize that they’re committing to a monthly gift. You will keep many more monthly donors if you do!
Do-nut No. 2: Do Not Automatically Upgrade Monthly Gifts.
Rather, ask your donors to upgrade and get their commitment to a new amount. You’ll actually raise more money, and it’s also a great time to ask for updated credit or debit card information. You may say: “Well, I’ll send a pre-announcement email about it.” The reality is that so many donors don’t open or read their emails to they may simply miss that message. Then the next time they look at their statement and see a higher amount, they’ll freak out.
Whoa! Guess what, they’ll cancel in a heartbeat or worse—they’ll start complaining to the authorities. You could ruin monthly giving for any and all charities forever! I’m sure that’s the last thing you’d want to see happen. Rather, do ask for an upgrade but ask for permission to do so and ask the donor to commit to a new amount. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how many will do so and at which amounts.
Always get donor buy—in for a change in amount. You’ll give the donor a good experience, and you’ll raise more money.
That’s it’s for the do’s and do-nuts! There are so many opportunities, have fun monthly-donor asking!
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.