Top 3 Ways to Steward Monthly Donors
The other day, one of my clients mentioned that she has been giving $10 a month to an organization for three years. She signed up on the street, and that was that—no phone call, no thank-you letter, no email, no newsletter, no anything.
Well, after this had been going on for three years, she called them up and said: “Enough is enough. While $10 a month is not a big amount, it’s all I can afford right now. I’m going to cancel because, clearly, you don’t care!”
Pretty sad, eh? Unfortunately, this is the case with some organizations. Just because someone signed up as a monthly donor doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t want to hear from you.
You must engage with them, unless they told you upfront they didn’t want to. So, here are my top three ways to steward monthly donors.
1. Send a Hard Copy Thank-You Letter Immediately
No matter how the donor joined—online, on the street, via the phone, through direct mail—this letter should include the following:
- Frequency of giving (typically monthly)
- When it will be charged/deducted from their account
- Person to contact (phone/email) if they have questions
- What the donor can expect, which could be special event invites, updates on how their gift has made a difference and a tax letter in January showing all their gifts
2. Make a Thank-You Call
Even if it’s $10 a month, that’s $120 a year. It’s worth giving to a volunteer or board member to simply say thank you. Leave a message if you can’t get to the donor live and do include your contact information. Wow, the donor will feel really appreciated and if you can talk live, it’s a great opportunity to find out more about him/her. Why is the donor giving monthly? What do they like about the organization? Find out some demographics and most importantly, confirm that the donor indeed wants to give monthly. You really want a committed sustainer. If you’re a big organization, consider a voice broadcast that sounds as personal as you can make it. Something is better than nothing.
3. Send a Survey
Email works great and is very easy to set up. Keep it short and sweet, maybe three to five questions. Ask why he/she is giving monthly. Ask how often he/she would like to hear from you. Ask what types of communications he/she would like to receive. Then make sure you follow through on this. Donors love being asked for advice, and they’ll feel valued. This also will give you some food for follow-up and will generate some great testimonials you can use to acquire new monthly donors.
You have many a monthly donor to lose and everything to gain by just doing these top three things consistently.
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.