February 19, 2024
Nonprofit Technology & Fundraising Blog
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Contributed by Pamela Grow
What’s the one thing that your organization can do to truly connect with your donors on a deeper level, lead to greater bequest giving and grow your sustainable income — all at the same time?
If you guessed monthly giving, you’re right!
Monthly giving programs are crucial for nonprofit organizations to establish a reliable, consistent revenue stream.
They provide predictable cash flow that helps with budgeting and planning for the future. And these programs also offer an opportunity to enhance donor retention, as they encourage long-term investment in the organization’s mission and programs, creating a more engaged donor base.
Additionally, monthly giving programs lead to legacy giving, where donors make bequests or planned gifts to the organization in their wills or estates, ensuring ongoing support for the nonprofit beyond their lifetimes. By nurturing and promoting monthly giving programs, nonprofits can cultivate a loyal and supportive donor community that can sustain their work for years to come.
Monthly giving programs are more than just the option of making a recurring gift. Building your organization’s strong monthly giving program isn’t magic — it merely requires intention. That’s why, in my classes and work with clients, I recommend anywhere from three to five dedicated monthly giving campaigns a year. Depending on your donor base and donor communications schedule, this might consist of two or three multichannel asks and two or three digital campaigns.
One organization I interviewed offers its monthly giving program solely via direct mail and a sign-up form provided by the bank. If your organization isn’t set up to accept recurring credit card donations, the beauty of EFT is that the retention rate tends to be higher than other methods because there are no expired credit cards.
By leveraging a payment processor that integrates with your fundraising system, you can take the hassle out of processing gifts and renewing memberships to retain more recurring givers.
For example, DonorPerfect Monthly Giving allows you to automatically process recurring gifts at the donor’s preferred frequency and automatically update credit card information when it changes.
What does your donor’s $10 or $25 or $50 a month buy?
Feeding America notes that “every $1 of your monthly gift will help to provide $9 worth of food through [our] network of food banks.” UNICEF gives a compelling reason for donors to give monthly: “Monthly giving provides a steady and cost-effective source of income to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. And because your monthly donation is processed automatically, you help us reduce our costs — which allows us to fund more programs and help more children.”
The organization also lets donors know that “$15 a month (50¢ per day) can provide 12 packets of high energy biscuits specially developed for malnourished children.”
Paint a picture in the donor’s mind. Get specific, and get creative.
Begin by targeting those donors who already have demonstrated a commitment to your organization, either by a history of loyal giving or more than one gift in the last fiscal year. Get your board members “on board.” When I’ve launched monthly giving programs for smaller nonprofits, I often begin by bringing in board members. By giving monthly, board members can stretch their commitment. Introduce monthly giving to your email list.
IMPORTANT: Have a solid plan in place to steward your monthly donors well. The care and feeding of your monthly donors is a big question in many fundraiser’s minds. By all means continue to communicate. You don’t want to make the mistake of letting your monthly supporters fall into a black hole!
International copywriter and donor retention expert Lisa Sargent recommends sending out special versions of your regular communications, offering special opportunities (events, guided tours, president’s breakfasts, etc.) and saying thank you — a lot.
Spend some time surveying your current monthly donors to find out why they give. Turn their comments into a “testimonial” sheet. Segment your database, and develop a targeted mailing or email campaign for the sole purpose of recruiting new monthly donors that includes the “testimonial”note with your mailing.
Include those testimonials on your website as well to encourage new monthly gifts. Review your monthly giving program every year with an eye to growing it. And always consider the lifetime value of your donor.
Named one of America’s Top 25 Fundraising Experts, Pamela Grow (she/her) is a veteran fundraiser with 20+ years of coaching experience, specializing in nonprofit fundraising. She is the author of Simple Development Systems: Successful Fundraising for the One-Person Shop, and the creator of Basics & More fundraising resources.