A few weeks ago I wrote about ways to help you become more successful in 2020. One of those was to emphasize monthly giving. I’d like to elaborate on that some more in this post.
Monthly giving is a win-win for your nonprofit. You can raise more money and boost your retention rate. Also, once donors opt into monthly giving, it’s an easier way for them to support your organization.
You can raise more money
Monthly or recurring donations can help donors spread out their gifts. They may be apprehensive about giving a one-time gift of $50 or $100. But if you offer them the option of giving $5 or $10 a month, that may sound more reasonable.
It’s easier on their bank accounts. It can also give you a consistent stream of revenue throughout the year instead of certain times, such as when you do individual appeals and events and when grants come in.
Monthly gifts are smaller, but you can raise a lot of money with lots of small gifts. Political candidates do it all the time. Also, monthly gifts aren’t as small as you think. The average monthly gift is $24 a month.
Check out this retention rate
The retention rate for monthly donors is an impressive 90%. That’s significantly higher than other retention rates.
One reason is that monthly gifts are ongoing. But your donors have agreed to that, so this shows they’re committed to your organization.
If you don’t already have a monthly giving program, make this the year you start one. It’s not as hard as you think.
A good way to start is to invite your current donors to become monthly donors. Your best bet for monthly donors are people who’ve given at least twice. These are donors who have shown a commitment to you.
That doesn’t mean you can’t ask first-time donors. This could be a good way to connect with donors from your most recent campaign. And if you haven’t officially welcomed your new year-end donors, do that now.
Make monthly giving the go-to option
Make monthly giving front and center in all your campaigns. It should be an easy option on your donation page. Include it on your pledge form and make it a prominent part of your appeal, maybe as a PS.
I can speak from personal experience that once I started giving monthly, that’s the way I wanted to give to all organizations. Your donors would probably agree.
A handful of organizations don’t offer a monthly giving option, which is a mistake. Some have a minimum donation, which I would also not recommend, if possible. If you do have a minimum, make it $5 a month instead of $10.
If your reason to have a minimum donation amount is to save money, is that happening if your minimum deters someone from giving at all? You often have to invest a little to raise more money.
Show some #donorlove
You need to do a good job of thanking your monthly donors. Go the extra mile and segment your monthly donors into new monthly donors, current monthly donors, and current donors who become monthly donors, which I explain more in the post below.
This way you can personalize their thank you letters to make them feel special. Be sure to mail a thank you letter, or even better, send a handwritten note. An email acknowledgment is not enough.
Many organizations send a monthly acknowledgment email or letter, and most are just okay. Some are basically only receipts. And while it’s helpful to know the organization received your donation, you’re not practicing good stewardship if that’s all you do.
You could spruce up these monthly acknowledgments, both by not making them sound like they were written by a robot and by providing some donor-centered updates.
One thing you should do is send your donors an annual summary of their monthly gifts. This is extremely helpful for people who itemize deductions. Make this letter more than just a receipt. Thank your donors and let them know how their monthly donations are helping you make a difference.
Reach out at least once a month
Besides showing #donorlove, here are some other ways to reach out to your monthly donors.
You could create a special newsletter for monthly donors or include a cover letter referencing monthly donors. If that’s too much, you could give a shout out to your monthly donors and include information on how to become a monthly donor in your newsletter.
Hold an open house for monthly donors. Even if they don’t attend, they’ll appreciate the invitation. You could also offer tours, either at a specific time or on request.
Include a list of your monthly donors in a newsletter, annual report, or on your website. Donor lists are just one of many ways to show appreciation and not the only one, so do much more than just that. Of course, honor any donor’s wish to remain anonymous.
Thank yous, newsletters, and updates are not a one-time time deal. Keep it up throughout the year. Many nonprofits start out communicating regularly with their monthly donors and then disappear after a couple of months.
These donors made a commitment to you by giving every month. Make the same commitment to them by reaching out at least once a month. Create a special section in your communications calendar specifically for monthly donors to help with this.
I highly recommend a contact person for your monthly donors in case they need to update their credit card information or make a change to their gift, hopefully, an upgrade. Include this information in their welcome letter.
Another way to help out your monthly donors is to let them know when their credit cards are about to expire. Don’t rely on your donors to remember this, because most likely they won’t.
Set up a system where you can flag credit cards that will expire in the next month or two. Then send these donors a friendly reminder email or letter. This will help you, as well, so you can keep receiving a steady stream of donations.
You could encourage donors to give via an electronic funds transfer from their bank account instead. Then neither you nor your donors need to worry about credit cards expiring.
Once a monthly donor, always a monthly donor
Once someone becomes a monthly donor, you must always recognize them as such. You most certainly should send fundraising appeals to monthly donors, but not the same ones you send to other donors.
I think the best way to raise additional money from monthly donors is to ask them to upgrade their monthly gift. Be as specific as possible. For example – We’re so happy you’re part of our family of monthly donors and are grateful for your gift of $5.00 a month. Could you help us out a little more this time with a gift of $7.00 or even $10.00 a month?
You can also ask monthly donors for an additional gift during one of your fundraising campaigns, but you MUST recognize they’re monthly donors – We really appreciate your gift of $10 a month. Could you help us out a little more right now with an additional gift? We want to expand our tutoring program to three more high schools.
If you send the usual generic appeal, imagine your donor saying – “I already give you $10 a month and you don’t seem to know that.”
But if you let those committed, monthly donors know you think they’re special, they’ll be more likely to upgrade or give an additional gift.
Don’t miss out on this proven way to raise more money, boost donor retention rates, and provide an easier giving option for your donors. Read on for more about monthly giving.
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