Should You Use a ‘Tchotchke’ for Monthly Giving?
This is an interesting question. The first answer is that this depends very much on what you’re currently using in your appeals and messaging. The second answer is that you will never know until you test it.
If your donors are used to receiving something “in exchange for a donation,” using a tchotchke or premium as a “thank you” for joining a monthly giving program may be the way to go.
For example, if you’re sending out upfront premiums (also known as freemiums) now—think address labels, calendars, pens, note cards, or sometimes as big as flags or tote bags—you’ve probably somewhat trained your donors to expect something in return.
It’s also what public TV and radio stations do when they use a premium to entice members to join, either with the membership in full or by making a monthly gift.
If you’re used to sending mission-focused appeals, your donors are more likely to support your organization simply because of the story you tell them and how they can make help—they want to do just that.
They’ll join your monthly donor program, because it’s easier and convenient on their budget. They’ve already made up their mind that they want to support you, and you’re allowing them to make a difference with a smaller amount.
They’ll join not because you promise them something tangible.
As mentioned, if you can test it, that’s the way to go. I’ve seen it both ways, but typically for mission-focused organizations, a tchotchke seems to work less. You could argue that it’s the premium. The closer aligned to the organization the premium is, the better. Offering yet another cap or another tote bag may simply not be considered that valuable.
Based upon some recent donor surveys I’ve seen, the most important reason why a donor decides to give monthly is because it is indeed the most convenient and easy way they can do what they can that fits their budget.
And we, as fundraisers, have to continue to make donors feel like they can indeed make a difference with any amount. In some cases that will require using a tchotchke as a carrot to get them over the threshold, in other cases, the ease and convenience is enough of a motivator. The real decision to join always lies with the donor.
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.