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9 Things Your Nonprofit Needs to Know About Monthly Donations

It’s the time of year when nonprofits are evaluating their recent fundraising results and making plans to bring in more contributions in the coming year. But… how?

What will move the needle for you this year?

This question came up in a recent call I was on, and the subject turned to this organization’s monthly giving program. It was doing okay, but they weren’t persuaded it was worth the time and effort compared with focusing on major donors. What I tried to tell them was that many monthly donors are major donors or major or legacy donors in waiting!

If you’re not thinking about your monthly donor program this way, this year is your opportunity to reframe how you think about it.

CONSIDER THIS: A $50 monthly donor is a $600 donor. A $100 monthly donor is a $1,200 donor. PLUS… monthly donors are exceedingly loyal. One-time donors renew, on average, at a rate of 45%. Monthly donors renew, on average, at a rate of nearly 90%. And the fact they give consistently over time means they truly identify with your charity. You are so important to them you are like one of their children to whom they give a monthly allowance! So there’s a good chance they may also leave you a legacy gift.  Wouldn’t it make sense to double down this year to try to grow and cultivate more of these loyal supporters?

On my recent call with the charity feeling uncertain about how much resources to devote to monthly giving, I remembered this conversation I had a few years back with expert, Bill Sayre, CEO of Merkle RMG. Since he works with hundreds of organizations to help them build and manage their sustainer programs, I’d asked him to give me his thoughts on what you can do to begin and/or better manage your monthly giving program.

Chances are you already have some sort of monthly sustainer program.  But… is it the best it can be?  Could it do more heavy lifting for you?

Today I’m re-running this article in the hopes it will help you plan for the year ahead. You’ll learn not only why monthly donor programs are a good idea, but how you can put management systems in place, grow your revenue, keep donors happy and maximize return on your investment.

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Monthly Giving! Not-so-Secret Strategy to Keep Your Nonprofit Afloat Today

Sign: We Miss You, We Love YouFor at least the past five years I’ve been actively encouraging nonprofits of all stripes to begin or ramp up their monthly giving program. It made sense then. It makes even more sense now.

Why?

You need a dependable source of income in order to be able to plan for the future.

If that sounds good to you, please continue reading. I’m going to share some best practices and examples to help you somewhat magically raise more dollars from individuals, both today and tomorrow.

Guess what?

Once donors sign on as monthly givers they tend to stick with you.

In fact donor retention of monthly supporters averages 80 – 90%, compared with just 65% for annual donors.  That’s huge!

So huge, in fact, you’re missing a gigantic boat if you don’t currently promote monthly giving as a key fundraising strategy. In other words, you’re leaving boatloads of cash on the table.  If you could use a boatload of cash right now, never fear.  All you need to do is…

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Easy Ways to Boost Your Nonprofit’s Monthly Giving

Group boosting the team effortDo you have monthly donors, or a monthly donor program?

If you don’t have a program, you’re likely leaving monthly donors on the table.

This is hurting your bottom line because, on balance, the net value of a monthly donor to you is more than that of a one-time donor.

So let’s look at how to turn your handful of monthly donors into a full-fledged program.

1. Begin with Proactive Strategies

If what you have right now is simply a checkoff box on your remit piece or donation landing page, you’ve got a passive strategy.

In other words, if donors don’t know why you want them to give a monthly gift there’s nothing to persuade them to check this box. Try to get inside the donor’s head and imagine what they’re thinking. It could be any of the following:

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7 Powerful Ways to Increase Recurring Giving [Benchmark Study]

Recurring giving is essential for organization sustainability and growth.

After all, what’s the point of all your hard work if you get only one donation from someone? That’s a super expensive way to fundraise, and sometimes you won’t even make back your investment. It’s called ‘churn and burn,’ and it’s depressing.

There’s a much better way. I know you’ve heard about it. I’ve written about it here, here and here. It’s called monthly giving. Or recurring giving.

Increasing the number of recurring giving donors is a really big deal! Recurring donors can give over 5 times more to you over their lifetime, as they are more likely to keep giving year after year. In fact, a 2016 study found that monthly recurring donors have a 90% retention rate, compared to the average donor retention rate of 46%.

This is HUGE, and should make you Stop. Dead. In. Your. Tracks. Wondering why on earth you’re not putting many more resources into this clearly winning fundraising strategy!

Yet, for a bunch of reasons, too few nonprofits engage in monthly, recurring giving.

Why?

To explore the reasons, and determine ways to overcome them, NextAfter joined forces with Salesforce.org to conduct a far-reaching study [The Nonprofit Recurring Benchmark Study] They made multiple donations, including a recurring gift to 115 nonprofits, and recorded their experience with each organization. The result was an analysis of the recurring giving process from the donor’s perspective. They found a bunch of areas of friction, plus offered up a slew of action items to help nonprofits improve their results. If you read the study, you’ll not only understand what works/what doesn’t work, but you’ll learn what to do about it.

No time to read the full study? Today I’ve invited one of the study authors, Brady Josephson of NextAfter, to share 7 techniques you can try for yourself to help increase the number of recurring gifts to your organization. 

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8 Reasons to Start a Nonprofit Monthly Giving Program NOW

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.

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Not Your Usual Year-End Nonprofit Donation Issues

Not_Your_Usual_Year-End_Donation_IssuesI doubt you’re worrying your pretty little heads about this stuff, but you should be.

Because year-end giving is simply too fraught with angst — and it needn’t be that way!

Giving to your nonprofit should be a joyful experience for your donors – before, during and after the transaction.

Not an anxious period of wondering whether their credit card transaction is secure, whether their gift went into a black hole or whether you’ll use it as they intended.

And guess what else?

Receiving donations should be a joyous occasion for you too.

Not an unmitigated nightmare of receiving credit card numbers that don’t work, worrying about how already busy staff can possibly process all your year-end donations and, for that matter, do so in a timely, professional and personal manner.

So give yourself and your donors a break.

How to do this? 

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