February 19, 2024
Nonprofit Technology & Fundraising Blog
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Contributed by Erica Waasdorp, President of A Direct Solution
When I first started fundraising monthly, now more than 30 years ago, there were only mail and phone appeals. Face-to-face conversations had just started, and some nonprofits were putting their toes in the water with direct response TV. Now, things are quite different. Just about every payment processor and constituent relationship management system (CRM) allow donors to make automatic monthly payments online.
Even with online fundraising being so prevalent now, many nonprofits struggle to balance their short and long-term giving initiatives. I continue to be passionate about monthly gift programs (and the power of long-term revenue) because I believe it’s one of the most donor-focused ways of giving, and research shows that monthly donors tend to give more.
Seeing the tremendous potential of recurring gifts and the need for nonprofits to focus on sustainable revenue, I worked with DonorPerfect in 2015 to create the Monthly Donor Starter Kit and Monthly Donor Marketing Kit – free downloads for fundraisers.
For more free resources, visit our Monthly Giving Success Hub »
To help with any fears you may have, I’m answering five questions I often get in regards to monthly and recurring giving:
with Monthly Giving Expert Erica Waasdorp
Monthly giving is all about looking at long-term revenue and improving donor retention. Both goals are accomplished when you convert one-time donors to give monthly!
Of course, it depends. Organizations that spend time focusing on their monthly donors can expect about 15-to-20% of their active donors to give monthly. These are typically your smaller donors, who give less than $250 single gifts.
Organizations that have focused on monthly giving for a while may see even higher percentages. For example, if you look at public TV and radio, some have 50-to-60% of their members give monthly.
For your first long-term goal, 15% would be a good place to start.
The key to monthly giving is that the better and more personal the donor experience is, the more likely donors are going to stay. After all, they’re giving you their credit card or bank account information. Donors will grow to trust you, which can only help with retention.
Start planting the seeds of monthly giving. It’ll take a little bit of time and a little bit of effort but certainly not much in terms of investment. Donors want to help, and giving monthly may be the best way for many of them do so. As a fundraiser, you must tell donors that giving a small monthly gift is an option to consider.
First, look at where you are now. How many monthly donors do you have and what’s your average gift size? What’s their annualized value? That’s your benchmark. Then look at what you’ve done to get to your current number:
Remember, it’s literally just a matter of including the opportunities in your messaging. You have donors who find it easy to help in that way and you can share their reasons to inspire others.
If you’re one of the many fundraisers who follow charity: water, you may already know that they’ve stopped focusing on one-time gifts altogether. Several years ago, they shifted their mindset to focus on monthly giving only, thus giving more people access to clean water (1 Million people in 22 countries around the world). With that in mind, I hope I’ve given you the monthly giving “bug” and that it never ever leaves you – the people and animals you serve will benefit!
Erica Waasdorp is President of A Direct Solution, located on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Erica lives and breathes fundraising and can be considered a Philanthropyholic. She works with nonprofit clients all over the country, as well as internationally, on their appeals and monthly giving programs. Erica has published two books on monthly giving; Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant (2012) and Monthly Giving Made Easy, a How-To Guide (2021).
She is an Association of Fundraising Professionals Master Trainer, specializing in appeals, direct mail, and monthly giving. She is also the former United States Ambassador for the International Fundraising Congress.
For more information, contact Erica at firstname.lastname@example.org.