What’s Your Techie’s Answer When It Comes to Monthly Donors?
I typically write posts that are aimed at any-sized organization. Today’s piece is initially more aimed at large organizations.
Let me share this story with you. When I worked at a big animal welfare organization with a huge donor base, we had several wonderful people in our “systems support/technology/IT” department.
As manager of monthly giving, I had to have regular meetings with these great “techies.” (Note: I absolutely mean this in the most endearing way possible!) We were always trying to develop new approaches and new channels for monthly donor acquisition, and upgrade campaigns and reports. We were also always trying to improve on processes.
Of course, our IT department had its own process, and every new request for tech support had to be logged for tracking. If you’re big enough to have an in-house IT department or if you’re working with external support folks, you probably recognize this.
Then, at some point, you’d sit down with the tech person to discuss what you’re looking for. One of my favorites was terrific. But her first response typically was: “That can’t be done!” I’d invariably say: “Well, think about it, and just let me know”. I wouldn’t get upset. I figured that it couldn’t hurt to see what happens.
Ninety-nine perfect of the time, she’d call me back in 10 minutes and say: “Ha! I figured it out. Here’s how we can do it!” I would of course always be grateful. And yet, another improvement of the monthly donor report, tracking or process had hatched!
The collaboration between fundraising and IT when it comes to monthly donors is crucial. I’ve even written a complete chapter about it in my book.
Since then, I’ve worked with numerous other organizations on their monthly giving programs. IT was always in the mix. Sometimes they’d been given the free reign to decide their priorities. Other times, there would be close collaboration. Of course, the latter is best.
Let me give you another example. I worked with an organization that wanted to turn around their monthly donor program. They were losing 500 credit card sustainers a month. All they did to recapture them was send a few letters and give those donors a call. They didn’t have an online update option in place, while they did have email addresses for most of their sustainers. When we discussed it with the IT folks, they didn’t think the online option was important at all.
Once I presented an overview of the sustainer value they were losing every year (500 monthly donors meant $87,000 a year; 6,000 monthly donors every year or a total value of $1,044,000 they were losing every year!). They had to do something. Pretty quickly, everybody was on the same page, and priorities were changed. After we implemented some changes, the program started growing again.
I must admit… I do love these successes!
As I’m knee deep into reviewing several other monthly donor retention programs, it’s becoming clearer every day how important it is to collaborate with your IT folks. No matter what else they have on their schedule, see if you can make them understand the tremendous value of your sustainer program and make them part of your win-back/sustainer-retention team. You’ll be glad you did.
Everybody is a fundraiser—your techies included!
Wait, you might say,” I don’t even have an IT department. I’m lucky to have a person who helps support my website a bit”. Well, I’d argue that you may actually be able to raise more money, if you get just a little bit more tech support. There are only 24 hours in the day, and if you have to spend your time creating or fixing your own web site, that’s time you can’t spend anywhere else, n’est-ce pas?
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.