Most of you are getting ready to launch your year-end appeal if you haven’t already done so. I hope your organization also has a monthly/recurring giving program. If you don’t, you’re missing out on a great way to raise more money and receive a constant stream of revenue throughout the year.
Plus, monthly giving will raise your retention rate. According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, the retention rate for monthly donors is 90%. These donors are committed to your organization!
To keep things simple, I’m going to use the term monthly giving, but you should offer your donors other options, such as quarterly giving.
How to get started
If you don’t already have a monthly giving program, try to set one up before your year-end appeal and let your donors know about it. If that’s not possible, make it one of your first New Year’s resolutions for 2019.
Setting up a monthly giving program will take a little work up front but will pay off in the end. Mention it in your appeal letters and make it a prominent option on your donation page.
Some organizations’ donation pages aren’t set up for monthly giving. I experienced this recently when I tried to make a donation. If I wanted to make a recurring gift, I had to contact the organization and in the interest of time, I chose a one-time gift.
Make it easy for everyone and set up a monthly giving option on your donation page.
Invite your current donors to become monthly donors
One way to get monthly donors is to ask your current donors to switch to monthly giving. Send targeted appeals to donors who have given at least twice. These donors have already shown you their commitment.
Let them know how much you appreciate their support and invite them to join your family of monthly donors. Show them how their $50 or $100 gift is helping you make a difference and how they can help even more with gifts of $5 or $10 a month.
Monthly donors get their own special appeal
If you already have monthly donors, send them a special appeal. Don’t send them a generic appeal that doesn’t recognize that they’re monthly donors. You should be personalizing and segmenting all your appeal letters, anyway.
Thank them for being a monthly donor and let them know you couldn’t do your work without their continued support. Politely ask monthly donors who’ve supported you for at least six months if they can upgrade their gift.
Monthly donors also get their own thank you letters
Not only do monthly donors get their own thank you letters, handwritten notes, or phone calls, you need separate letters for brand new monthly donors and current single-gift donors who’ve become monthly donors. I covered this in a recent post.
Don’t shortchange your monthly donors with a generic thank you letter.
I make most of my donations monthly. The thank yous I receive range from pretty good to dreadful to nonexistent.
Some organizations will send a monthly acknowledgment by email. I don’t mind these because it lets me know my donation was charged. Often I get the same boring email each month with an equally sleep-inducing subject line such as Subsequent Sustaining Thank You. One organization uses the subject line You Are AMAZING, which is pretty amazing, and rare.
Since your donors have committed to donating every month, show them the same courtesy by communicating with them at least once a month. Those generic thank you emails don’t count.
You could send an e-mail update and at least a couple of updates by mail. Show your donors how they’re helping you make difference in your updates. Share a story or give specific examples.
A few ways I’ve seen organizations recognize their monthly donors are by giving them a special shout out in their newsletter, thanking them in their annual report, and inviting them to take a tour of the organization. Other ideas include an open house, a thank you video, a thank you postcard, and a handwritten note. Whatever you do, keep in touch throughout the year.
Pay attention to your monthly donors
All donors are special, but monthly donors are extra special because they’ve made this commitment to you. Therefore, you’re doing a huge disservice when you don’t recognize them for who they are. You can send requests for an additional single gift but not without thanking them for their monthly support.
Speaking of paying attention, you need to keep track of when a donor’s gift is about to expire. One way to avoid that is to not include an expiration option on your donation page. But that only solves part of the problem because credit cards have expiration dates. Don’t rely on your donors to keep track of this. They’re busy and have a lot of other things to worry about.
Set up a system where you can flag credit card expiration dates. A month ahead of time, send your donors a friendly reminder letting them know it’s time to renew their monthly donation. You can also ask for an upgrade and, of course, thank them. If you don’t do this, you’ll lose money and you’re showing your donors you don’t care because you’re not paying attention to them.
Monthly giving is a proven way to raise more money and improve donor retention. I hope you’ll take the time to start or grow a monthly giving program for your organization.