Monthly Giving Mistakes

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Monthly giving is a great way to raise additional revenue and boost your retention rate. If you don’t have a monthly giving program, start one now. How to Create a Monthly Giving Program for Your Nonprofit

Many organizations do have a monthly or recurring giving option, which is great. What’s not great are some of the mistakes I see nonprofits making with their monthly giving.

Here are few of those monthly giving mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Sending generic appeals to monthly donors

I’m a firm believer that once someone becomes a monthly donor, they get their own appeal. You should be segmenting your appeals anyway (by current donors, potential donors, etc) and that rarely happens.

Recognizing that you know your donors can help you raise more money. Some organizations have special names for their monthly donors. All donors are special, but monthly donors are extra special because they made a commitment to support you long-term.

Therefore, you’re not showing the love when they get a one-size-fits-all appeal that doesn’t recognize they’re monthly donors.

I mentioned before that monthly giving allows you to raise extra money. Another way to raise additional revenue is to ask for a larger gift. Most organizations don’t do this and that’s one of the perils of generic appeals.

Here’s a way to craft an appeal to ask monthly donors to upgrade their gifts.

Thank you so much for your donation of $5.00 a month. We really appreciate your support. You can help us out even more by increasing your gift to $7.00 or even $10.00 a month.

Be reasonable. One organization did ask me to increase from $5.00 to $7.00 a month. Another asked me to become a Sustainer at $25.00 a month, which is a bit of a jump.

Not paying attention and letting monthly gifts expire

A little over a year ago, I started making monthly donations. Some organizations let you choose how many months you want to donate, although most don’t have that option. When given an option to choose, I picked 12 months. I didn’t keep track of which organizations had “expiration dates.” Neither did these organizations.

It wasn’t until I went through my credit card statements at the beginning of January, that I discovered three of my monthly donations had stopped charging. I did renew these donations and now I’m keeping track of which donations will expire in a year.

But how much of this is my responsibility? Donors are busy, especially at the end of the year. Help them out a little. These organizations missed two months of donations because they weren’t paying attention. I wonder how many other monthly donations they missed as well.

You can avoid this by keeping track of when monthly donations are set to expire. A month ahead of time, send donors a friendly reminder letting them know it’s time to renew their monthly donation. You can use the example above to thank donors and ask for an upgrade as well.

Monthly donors are not the same as single gift donors. I did receive generic appeals from some of these organizations but ignored them because I figured my monthly gift would continue.

Your thank you acknowledgments are boring  

Given that some organizations don’t bother to thank their donors at all, I should be happy that I get thank you acknowledgments each month for my monthly gifts. But many of these organizations send exactly the same thank you letter (most by email, a few by mail) every time. Sometimes it’s sporadic – thank yous one month, nothing another.

Here’s the text of one thank you I get every month.

Thank you very much for your ongoing support and your sustainer donation of $5.00 to X

Your next donation is scheduled for 1/31/18.

If you need to change your credit card or billing information, please visit the Gift Service Center or contact our Member Services team at …….

Your ongoing commitment will make a real difference, and we are deeply grateful for your support. It’s good to know you’re with us.

At the bottom, there’s a Donation Transaction Summary. Oh, that dreaded word transaction.

Kind of boring, isn’t it? Monthly giving expert, Erica Waasdorp recommends sending one thank you letter for the tax year and not sending monthly thank you letters. Is Your Monthly Donor Tax-Letter Ready? This way you can send one super-fabulous thank you letter instead of 12 boring ones.

However, it is possible to create 12 interesting updates. If you want to send a thank you each month, then give a specific example of how a donor’s gift is helping you make a difference. Or take Erica’s advice and nix the monthly thank you. Instead you could create a newsletter or send updates specifically for monthly donors.

Either way, be sure to stay in touch with your monthly donors at least once a month. They’ve made a commitment to support you once a month. You can do the same for them by pouring on the gratitude and showing these donors how they’re helping you make a difference.

A monthly/recurring giving program can be a great opportunity for your organization. Don’t blow it by making these mistakes.

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5 thoughts on “Monthly Giving Mistakes

  1. Ann, thank you for the terrific post. I’m a huge fan of monthly-giving programs. The biggest mistake I’ve seen with them is when a nonprofit does NOT have a monthly-giving program. Back in 1989, I wrote an article that predicted that EVERY charity would have a monthly-giving program within five years. I was very wrong. I shouldn’t have been wrong, but I’ll admit I was.

    As a monthly donor, here are the big mistakes I’ve personally experienced: 1) Charity does not ask me to renew. 2) Charity does not ask me to upgrade my support; I’ve NEVER been asked to upgrade my monthly giving! 3) Charity does not properly thank me.

    You can see why your post resonated with me. Thanks again!

    Like

  2. Yup, still a big problem with so many nonprofits. They just cannot get their head around the tremendous monthly donor power! But all we can do is keep promoting the principle of it and help nonprofits who are ready to implement a program! Keep up the great posts.

    I just wrote several blogs about the top 3 and top 7 questions about monthly giving, focused on managers. Let’s see what happens.

    Like

    • Thank you, Erica! Monthly giving is such a great opportunity for nonprofts. It’s enough to just have a monthly giving program. You have to pay attention to these donors and make them feel special.

      Like

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