What’s the No. 1 Game Changer for Monthly Donor Retention?
I’m still on a sustainer “high.” I just came back from a fabulous “Sustainer Day,” organized by the Direct Marketing Association of Washington. In just four fast hours, nonprofits and service providers shared trends, best practices and ways they’re working to bring in new sustainers and improve monthly donor retention.
Steve Froehlich from ALSAC/St. Jude finished the day by sharing his personal experiences and challenged us to look at trends in both the commercial and nonprofit space, and always be learning and growing as fundraisers.
A big portion of the morning was focused on monthly donor retention: How best to deal with those “pesky” credit card expiration dates.”
The No. 1 Game Changer for All Was Credit Card Updater
The first learning was that the results of card updater (also called card recycling or account updater) were not necessarily consistent, but in all cases, they were a game changer because they really decrease the number of people the organization has to contact to ask for updated information.
Some saw 10 percent at first, going up to 20 percent; others saw 36 percent of cards being updated automatically.
The second learning was to capture updated credit card information before the card expires. That’s not always possible, but if your card processor can provide you with that information, it’s definitely worth doing.
The third learning was to convert your check and credit card donors to EFT/ACH—automatic bank withdrawal. Especially younger donors are more comfortable with ACH, so do consider asking your credit card donors to convert.
All three approaches will help you improve your monthly donor retention rate. And for all goes that it is crucial to always think of the donor first. Think of the relationship you have with them. Don’t make it about “systems.” Always make it about ease of giving in your communications.
Always appreciate the gifts the donor makes. Use the conversion or update request time as a way to communicate how important the donor is to your organization.
And don’t be afraid. You’re providing a “service” to the donor by letting them know their card expires. The donor wants to continue to support you. Keep the monthly donor relationship in mind in everything you and you’ll keep that sustainer for many years to come. In fact, you can even ask them for more money!
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is author of the book "Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant." 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 just co-authored the "Monthly Giving Starter and Marketing Kit" with Donor Perfect, and she’s working on her next book called "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 cat, Mientje.
You can reach Erica at email@example.com or by phone at (508) 776-1224.