One of the key annual fundraising strategies I recommend you add (or rev up) this year is monthly giving.
It’s one of the best ways I know to move the needle in improving your mid-level giving program, and to also serve as a pipeline to acquire new donors, upgrade current donors, and influence major and legacy giving.
To help you persuade your “powers that be” this is a direction in which you should definitely be headed, I’ve invited Erica Waasdorp, pre-eminent monthly giving guru, to write a guest article on this topic. Take it away Erica!
If you don’t have a monthly donor program yet, I highly recommend you start as soon as you possibly can.
This afternoon or first thing tomorrow would be good!
Let me share with you 8 reasons why.
You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
1. Monthly giving is easy for the donor!
As a fundraiser, you already know it’s all about being donor centric. Well, monthly giving is being truly donor centric. It’s all about the donor. The donor can make a gift at a time that’s convenient for them, morning, afternoon or night. They can make a gift using their phone, tablet or desktop computer. They can make a gift no matter which life stage they’re in. 50% of baby boomers give monthly and 60% of millennials are interested in giving monthly.
Most importantly, the donor can make a difference with the amount that’s most convenient and comfortable for their budget. No gift too small. Just $5 or $10 a month makes a difference and the donor can simply ‘set it and forget it’. Easy, right?
2. Monthly giving is easy for you!
Years ago, when I started working on monthly donor programs, this was not the case but now monthly giving is so much easier for you to set up and organize. You already have the tools. You have the online donation processor. You just must create a special giving page to focus on giving monthly. You have the donor base that can handle monthly donors. And you have the thank you processes in place. All you need to do is tweak your materials to accommodate for recurring gifts instead of one-time donations.
I am about keeping things very simple and easy so the chances they’re implemented are much bigger than otherwise. So, simply take what you’re doing now and make some small tweaks to it and you can be very successful with monthly giving.
3. Monthly giving costs and resources are minimal
When I started in monthly giving more than 25 years ago, we needed a whole department to work with the banks, create special files, etc. Online didn’t exist, it was all about direct mail and telephone. Boy, things sure have changed!
You don’t need a lot of donors to get started and it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg to obtain monthly donors. And if you focus, your time spent growing the program can be very minimal.
So, start close by, with the low hanging fruit. Join your own program! Then ask your board, your staff, your volunteers and depending upon your type of organization, you can even ask your clients.
Your marketing tools can be quite inexpensive and accessible:
- EMAIL: You have your email program already in place. It’s just a matter of asking. Now you can get started even with just 500 email addresses. For example, a small animal charity wanted to start growing their recurring donors. They sent three emails out with a goal of generating 15 new monthly donors and a deadline. If they achieved that goal, a board member would provide an additional $5,000 as a little ‘carrot’ to motivate donors to give monthly. Well, that carrot worked and soon, these 15 monthly donors were generating $2,500 a year and they got the additional $5,000. Pretty powerful, right?
- E-NEWS: You may already have your e-news in place. It’s just a matter of adding in a short message about giving monthly.
- SOCIAL MEDIA: Social media is affordable too, just change the appeal from giving once to giving monthly.
- VIDEO: Video is very powerful and cheap. Just take your smart phone, interview a current monthly donor and ask them why they give monthly. Then use that video everywhere you can to motivate other donors to give monthly.
You can literally create a monthly donor program on one hour a week. That’s why I started #MonthlyDonorMonday. Of course, if you spend a little bit more time, you’ll be able to do more and grow faster!
Finally, finance folks often complain about the credit card fees. Well, the reality is that you’d have those fees with one-time gifts as well. The reality is that you might be looking at a very small amount. Just look at this little chart. If a monthly gift is $23, that’s only about $0.37 in fees. That’s $4.44 a year. Sounds like a very small amount if you ask me!
And better yet, 70% of donors offer to pay for the fees if you offer to do so, so credit card fees are nil!
4. Monthly giving increases your donor retention
With the current average donor retention rates being 45%, it should be your goal of improving that all the time. Well, with monthly giving, retention rates go up to 90% or higher! Pretty powerful, right?
5. Monthly donors give more money
This little chart below shows you exactly how much more. Some 3 to 4 times more. The current one-time gift is $70, the current monthly donor gives $23 a month, or $252 a year.
6. Monthly giving provides sustainable revenue
This is probably one of the most important reasons to start looking for monthly donors. You can PLAN your programs because you know the funds will be there.
Even if there’s another storm, another hurricane, another earth quake or volcano outburst, or fire, no matter what happens, monthly donor revenue will come in to support your unrestricted operating revenue. Monthly giving is the best insurance policy you can think of.
7. Monthly donors can be upgraded to higher levels
Remember the donor? No gift too small. Even if they start with $5 or $10 a month, you can upgrade your monthly donors to higher levels, at least once a year. Also, you can still ask your monthly donors for additional gifts, at least once, even two to four times a year. So, don’t worry too much about that initial monthly gift, it will go up.
8. Monthly donors are more likely to leave you in their will
Speaking about upgrades… monthly donors are six times more likely to leave you their ultimate gift. They’ll put you in their will. They care so much about your organization. They’re loyal. They just can’t afford to write the big checks now. For example, one organization got 75% of their legacy income last year from their monthly donors!
BOTTOM LINE: Not only will monthly donors provide you money you can count on now, but you can expect to get even more in the future. So, what are you waiting for? Start growing your monthly donors now.
By Erica Waasdorp, President, A Direct Solution, and author of Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant and other resources. Erica helps NPOs throughout the U.S., helping them with direct mail appeals and sustainer acquisition, retention and upgrades. She is a Master Trainer for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, blogs on Nonprofit Pro, and presents in person and via webinars.
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Images courtesy of CharityHowTo webinar, start a monthly giving program now. 7 reasons why you can’t afford to wait).