I just bought my 2021-day runner filler. Yes, I’m still one of the ‘old fashioned’ people who uses a paper planner. It just helps me get organized during chaos and writing things down helps me remember!
I sure hope that next year will bring some more travel again. Because that’s what I love the most.
Talking to people who attend an in-person sustainer workshop or who come listen to a presentation. Hearing what some of their questions are.
Don’t get me wrong, I love virtual meetings and webinars too, but nothing beats seeing people’s facial expressions and live interaction! That’s how I learn.
I may not always have the answer or perhaps not right away but trust me, I’ll do the research needed to get to the answer.
One of the questions I get often is: “Can you take a look at my online forms and my approach and let me know how I can improve?”
This is often followed by: “I’m frustrated because my marketing or communications department controls the web site and I can’t make the changes I need to make so this program will grow more.”
Most nonprofits already have the systems in place to handle online and offline donations. But…
Sadly, in many cases they may have been chosen by communications, marketing or perhaps even IT/systems people or finance or accounting folks.
Sometimes fundraisers were not involved or barely.
You may feel ‘stuck’. Especially right now.
Because nobody is going to change these systems any time soon.
So how do you use what you have and still grow your online giving and your monthly donor program?
Trust your systems, but verify how they work first…
Poor process can sink exellent fundraising.
This may sound silly but start by verifying what’s happening now. Pretend you’re a donor for a minute. Or if you’re not comfortable, ask someone outside of the organization to make two gifts, a one-time gift, and a monthly gift.
Begin with the one-time gift.
- When a donor goes online to make a gift, what do they see?
- What are the amounts?
- What happens when they click the button?
- Can the donor pay for the processing fees?
- What does the thank you landing page and thank you email look like?
Follow a similar process for a monthly gift.
- Can the donor toggle to a monthly donor option or do they need to tick the box to make the gift recurring?
- Do the amounts change when you change to recurring?
- Does the donor choose a date for processing or is this done automatically for them?
- Does the form allow for credit card and EFT/ACH gifts?
- Does the thank you landing page and thank you change when the donor makes a monthly gift?
Verify what happens after the gift is made (or isn’t)…
See where the gifts end up.
- How do they feed into your donor base?
- Can you tell if it’s a one-time gift or a monthly gift?
- Is there a code associated with it?
- Who gets the notification of a gift and how does that trigger the next stage in the thank you process?
Look at some analytics next and create some benchmarks for your organization
- How many donors go to the giving page but don’t complete their gifts?
- How many people pay for the processing fees?
- How are your email appeals doing?
- How did your past monthly donor appeals do?
Keep the verification process going because…
It doesn’t end there yet.
Sometimes things fall through the cracks.
I’ve seen it happen where the first gift is charged, but then something has to be done in the back end to keep charging it moving forward. If you don’t do that, guess what, you already lost your monthly donor.
- Check the next month to make sure the recurring gift is charged.
- What does the monthly donor see when the next charge happens?
- What does it say on their credit card or bank statement?
- What does the messaging look like that next month?
Now you have a full inventory of what the donor perceives and receives using the system you have in place.
And I hear you, parts of this may be frustrating and there are so many things you’d like to change.
But now may not be the time to say you want to change your systems.
In my view, in probably 99% of cases, you can absolutely work with what’s there with some simple tweaks. Especially if you ‘explain’ the importance of monthly giving, right now, during the Covid-19 crisis.
So, start with those tweaks.
It will probably mean setting up a meeting with the marketing, communication, web folks and see if you can improve what’s there now. In some cases, you may even be able to add a user request and your system will make necessary updates.
- Take a special look at the amounts showing on the forms. For example, if your one-time forms start with $50 or $100 and that doesn’t change for monthly, that’s simply too high.
- Now’s also the time to bring up the option to create a special page with a monthly only option.
- Plan to ask more often and to offer more opportunities for donors to give monthly. This is the ultimate key in growing your monthly giving program.
Your objectives are to (1) get everyone in your organization on the same page; (2) help donors inclined to help more easily follow through on their desire to support you, and (3) actively encourage donors to consider an online gift!
While your donation forms are certainly important, if donors can’t even find them, or they’re not driven there, it doesn’t matter how good your forms or system is.
Now that you’ve gone through this testing and verifying exercise you can rest assured you know exactly what your system does and what the (monthly) donor experience will be. You’ve made sure it works to the best of your ability. So…
Now, start asking for monthly gifts more!
In my presentations, I typically ask: ”How often do you ask donors to consider a monthly gift?” There are always a few who say ‘just once a year;’ some even say ‘Never!’
If you’re not actively asking, it’s probably not just your forms and systems holding you back.
So, start by tweaking things to offer a better donor experience. Then, before you allow panic or worries about your systems hold you back…
Time to go live — and go live often! — and reap the rewards.
This means offering your donors as many opportunities as you can to go to your forms; then see what happens.
And keep those meetings with your communications and marketing folks going and share results often. Chances are they’ll get enthused about the results and want to do more. Then everybody wins and your organization will raise even more money!
Guest Author: Erica Waasdorp, President, A Direct Solution. Besides publishing one of the very few books on monthly giving, Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant, she created several e-books including ‘Top 7 Questions about Monthly Giving’ and the ‘Monthly Donor Retention Playbook.’ She also co-authored the DonorPerfect Monthly Giving Starter and Marketing Kits. Grab this Monthly Donor Roadmap infographic from Erica, and also check out these 10 tips excerpted from her book. Erica works with non-profit clients nationally and internationally, assisting start to finish with appeals and monthly giving. Don’t hesitate to reach out to her with any questions related to monthly giving. She is the bomb!