Try Something New With Your Monthly Donors
Fundraisers are fascinating. Sometimes, they want to try something new and forget about proven approaches and channels. Other times, they are too afraid to even consider something new.
I get it. If you’re worried that you’re not going to make your goals, you’ll put on the brakes. If you think that your donors might get upset about what you’re trying to do, you’ll walk on eggshells.
Most times, you’re scared because someone who doesn’t understand fundraising at all (sometimes your boss, sad to say) makes you question your approaches. I’ve seen fundraisers get totally paralyzed. They become afraid to do absolutely anything — let alone communicate with their donors.
That’s not a good spot to be in, is it?
As a fundraiser, you should have some freedom to think outside the box. And if you’re a calculated risk-taker like me, you can do a lot without jeopardizing anything!
You could even find a brand-new approach that works for your donors! Especially when it comes to monthly giving, there’s still lots of uncharted territory. Very exciting and scary for some.
Let me share an example. A few weeks ago, I received a call from one of my favorite animal charities’ volunteer leaders. He absolutely loves monthly giving, and he’s seen the tremendous impact they make.
He’s always trying to do something new and he loves for me to share it. Here’s what they did:
They have a little over 300 monthly donors. Every year, they organize a special animal-focused event, open to all donors and dog lovers in the area. They recognize their monthly donors with a special marking on their name tag, and they have a special monthly donor registration table.
This year, they placed one of the dogs (cute and sad looking at the same time) near the table with a sign that said: “$3 more for me.” The donors asked how they could help, and all they had to do was complete a form that said: “Yes, I’ll add $X more to my monthly gift.” And that was it.
Some 80 monthly donors came to the event, and 35% of them increased their monthly amount on the spot. The organization then sent a special upgrade email, using the same dog and messaging with a link to an online upgrade form. And they had another 10% increase, with $6 a month on average.
Cost for this was minimal. Nobody downgraded. Nobody canceled. No pressure. It was all voluntary. The key was that the animal impacted was shown, and the organization asked for the upgrade.
I’m not saying you’ll have the same results, but you should be able to upgrade at least some monthly givers. Something to consider for January, perhaps? What’s the worst that can happen if you ask for an upgrade?
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.