If a monthly giving program is not one of your key strategic annual fundraising strategies, this is the year you should add it to your development work plan.
It’s your secret to being sustainable, short-and long-term. Because recurring donors give more and stay more loyal over time.
These donors can become a reliable source of predictable annual revenue that minimizes stress and uncertainty.
This is something you should seriously consider, don’t you think?
And it’s really not rocket science. It’s something you can and should do. And I’m about to give you a step-by-step process to help you maximize your annual contribution revenues.
Should you have any doubt that this will yield impressive results, take a look at this infographic from Network for Good:
Rather than crossing your fingers and hoping for the best once a year (usually at the end of the calendar), why not spread your fundraising opportunity out across the entire 12 months?
Monthly Recurring Gift Programs are a Year-Round Solution
With monthly giving programs you can engage and reignite donor passions all year long – effectively taking greater control of your nonprofit’s destiny.
In Monthly Recurring Gifts: Your Secret to Nonprofit Sustainability I point to several studies demonstrating both that (1) recurring donors give more (anywhere from 50 – 200% increase), and (2) recurring donors stay loyal (80% vs. 23% for new donors; 80 – 95% vs. 60% for ongoing donors).
I also outline four key challenges that must be overcome to build and sustain a vibrant monthly giving program. In a nutshell, you must be able to answer “Yes!” to the following:
- We will be active and direct about asking. This can’t be a passive ask, or merely one option among many that’s included as a donation remit or landing page check box.
- We will be clear about our monthly giving “brand.” Do you have a club folks can join? Is it clear what the benefits are?
- We will make monthly giving engaging and even fun. A monthly giving experience should build. It’s transformational when done right, not just transactional.
- We will be reassuring and satisfying. Brand every communication donors receive, and tell them what heroes they are.
If you’re ready to say “Yes!” to all these challenges, today I’d like to offer a step-by-step plan to help you build a vibrant monthly giving program that will boost your fundraising results, today and tomorrow.
10 Monthly Giving Strategies that Work
1. Identify donors likely to make recurring gifts
- All first-time donors because they’ve not yet developed a habitual pattern of giving just annually
- Ongoing donors who’ve made multiple gifts during the course of the year
- Mid-level donors ripe for an upgrade (e.g., people who have been giving you $50/$100/$200 over the past few years and are growing increasingly in love with you)
2. Put in place the infrastructure that will give donors a seamless giving experience
- Develop a written plan to begin and/or better manage a monthly giving program.
- Work with an outside vendor to create operational efficiencies and guide you through the steps to set up and implement your program (Search online; you’ll find a myriad of software options)
- Create merchant accounts to collect donations via credit card
- Get one person to own the program and be the public face/personal contact
- Assign responsibilities to specific staff (development and finance)
3. Brand your program
- Give it a name so folks feel they’re “members.” People like to belong.
- Give donors benefits such as increased access or exclusive updates and opportunities
- Give donors a specific contact person so they feel specially taken care of
4. Don’t ask for a second gift until you’ve thanked and demonstrated how the first gift was used
This should go without saying. It’s really Donor Acknowledgement 101, addressing the challenge of reassuring donors they can trust you to follow through on the promises you made when they joined you as recurring givers. For folks who see your organization’s name every month on their credit card statement, there’s an added expectation they’ll hear from you with gratitude a few times before you ask them to recommit.
5. Develop a recurring giving case for support
Clarify the benefits to your donor. Some of these benefits will be:
- Related to the impact of the donor’s gift (e.g., how a predictable cash flow improves planning and leads to a stronger, more reliable programs and services.)
- Related to the convenience of giving and/or being asked to give fewer times.
- Special incentives to join, such as a matching gift just for monthly donors.
- “Insider” opportunities (e.g., monthly givers’ newsletter; recognition event; honor roll listing) or token gifts (as long as these are of intangible or small tangible value there are no legal issues affecting the tax deductibility of the donation).
6. Develop a content marketing plan to communicate exclusively with monthly donors
- Survey donors to ascertain communication preferences (channels and frequency)
- Show exactly who donors are helping by sending (monthly) videos and media (e.g., a “story of the month” demonstrating how their giving helped)
- Send (weekly) update messages via social media and text (e.g., “Monthly givers rescued another 100 pets this month.”)
7. Acquire new recurring donors by directly asking
Use a variety of different strategies, such as:
- Develop branded, mobile responsive donation pages with video calls to action
- Offer recurring giving option for every campaign
- Create a special crowdfunding campaign with a recurring giving option
- Hold a volunteer phonathon to transition one-time donors to monthly donors by thanking current annual donors for previous giving and making a recurring gift ask
- Implement a mailing campaign with a specific appeal to become a recurring donor
- Implement a social media campaign that builds community online across multiple channels, while promoting monthly giving
- Secure phone numbers; Send text messages (e.g., “1200 hot meals were served last month because you cared. Click her to join the “Meal a Month” club.”)
8. Renew recurring givers
- Send regular gifts of content to build loyalty (compelling stories; useful “how to” templates, lists or videos; recommendations; reading lists; research papers; reports)
- Send interactive content to build engagement (ask for retweets, follows, comments, advocacy actions, attendance at events)
- Enable tribute giving through an online form, thereby giving monthly donors a bigger bang for their buck (e.g., each month they can designate their gift be made in honor or memory of someone different)
9. Transition non-digital recurring donors to digital ones
This can improve cost-effectiveness of your program as well as the overall user experience.
- Create a “case statement” to clearly explain the benefits of this transition to donors (e.g., cut overall costs; save trees; facilitate donor record-keeping and regular sharing of impact reports)
- Move from EFT and mailed credit card statements to automated transactions and receipts
- Create easy-to-use forms to facilitate the transition and build credibility that the donor’s gift will be allocated as they intend
10. Upgrade recurring givers
- Base this increase on the growth you anticipate in your programs (if you’ll serve 5% more people, ask for 5% more dollars)
- Base this increase on levels of benefits you will offer (e.g., “Meal a Month Club” members receive X and Y; “Meal a Month Heroes” members receive X, Y and Z)
- Base this increase on a challenge grant you have in place
Monthly giving really is the bomb!
Here’s one last graphic depiction for you, compiled by the good folks at Bloomerang using data compiled over the last decade by the Fundraising Effectiveness Project from actual nonprofit databases throughout the United States.
I’ll wager you didn’t think you had a snowball’s chance in you-know-where of renewing 90% of your donors!
If you have any niggling doubts folks will commit to what amounts to a monthly “subscription,” consider the growth in Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Prime members. Many folks would prefer to pay $12.99 a month rather than $99 a year. It’s more money, but… it seems less painful. Amazon knows this, which is why they just raised their monthly rate yet kept the annual rate the same.
They’re doing your research for you. Take advantage.
If you’re not yet a Clairification School student, be sure to sign up so you’ll receive all my articles. [Hmmn… would you do it more readily for $12/month? ]