Who Are the Quiet Leaders in Sustainer Giving?
What’s the first nonprofit you think of with a huge sustainer program?
Did you guess your local public broadcasting station?
But yet, most public TV and radio stations are leading the pact when it comes to sustainer giving. They started asking for monthly gifts many years ago.
If you look at the most recent Blackbaud Luminate online Benchmarks Report 2020, public broadcasting stations receive 52.6% of their online revenue from sustainer gifts (compared to an industry average of 9%).
One explanation for this high percentage is the fact that their average online sustainer gift is $12.43 compared to $38.61. These are typically smaller donors.
Sustainer giving for public broadcasting grew by 20.9% compared to 17.9% in other types of nonprofits. It saw the sustainer light and its lifetime value very early on.
Another explanation for the success is that most public TV and radio stations are allowing members to pay their membership fee by giving monthly. That’s how they were able to grow so much over the years.
They have a local presence. They have the huge advantage that they can do on-air TV or radio pledge drives. They don’t have to worry about buying airtime to run their sustainer ads. Most have studios in-house. Public broadcasting stations have a loyal following, thanks to some of the great programming. They are also able to always thank their donors on-air, before — and sometimes even during — their programs.
The program guides and email updates are great ways to stay connected and, of course, the fact that they continue to offer popular series and documentaries don’t hurt either.
Also, what’s of interest: There’s not a finite amount that will make a difference. There’s no $5 or $10 a month will help a child with a smile, or $12 a month provides clean water to a village, or $25 a month helps an animal or $50 a month buys five meals or groceries. They’ve made it work without that. You probably face that similar challenge in your organization.
Yes, there are some specials the donor may receive if they join at $5 or $10 a month, but ultimately the donor will decide how much their public TV or radio station is worth to them.
I’m an aficionado of many of their programs and I’ve been a small sustainer for many years. I occasionally receive an extra gift request and get an upgrade request twice a year.
Congratulations public broadcasting on your sustainer success. We’re eternally grateful for your continued focus on sustainer giving. You have helped to pave the way for other sustainer programs. You have helped donors to understand that this is a great way to support the cause they care so much about.
So, if you’re researching successful sustainer programs, look at your local public TV or radio station. Listen to some of its on-air pledges. What do you like? What do you not like? Why do you think they’re so successful? What can you learn and then apply for your own organization?
Editor’s Note: Erica Waasdorp's blog, Monthly Giving Motivator, will move to Thursdays starting in November.
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.