At FNY, we love monthly donor programs no matter the context — but in moments of uncertainty, the value of sustainer revenue becomes even clearer. We wanted to revisit this important fundraising strategy now with perennial best practices as well as specific thoughts on strengthening your monthly donor program during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because monthly giving is a “set it and forget it” option, similar to online bill pay, monthly donors are significantly more loyal, with a retention rate as high as 80%, compared to 20% among regular donors[1]. Additionally, monthly giving is more affordable for budgets, allowing you to get value from donors who aren’t able to give larger one-time gifts, like millennials. That’s why, overall, monthly donors are 5 times more valuable than one-time donors[2]. Yes, 5 times!

However, like any other fundraising initiative, monthly giving programs require a dedicated strategy to be profitable. And, right now, individuals and families may be struggling with unprecedented financial worries, leading to second-guessing expenses and potentially canceling their monthly contribution. Below, we share 5 essential tips that we stress with all our partners who are seeking to grow and secure a successful monthly giving program, including considerations for monthly giving in today’s context:

#1 — Brand your monthly giving program, including a uniquely targeted case for support.

The most successful programs make monthly donors feel like part of a special community. This includes giving the group a unique name, logo and benefits that bring them closer to your mission and programs, like branded premiums, invitations and gift matches.

Beyond this, create a dedicated story of impact that is made possible because of the valuable, sustainable and recurring stream of revenue that this group brings in. In today’s context, you can refresh this case to underscore the role that monthly gifts play in enabling your organization to weather this crisis.

Your case for support narrative should be implemented in a tailored stream of communications for these donors, including a welcome pack and newsletters with exclusive stories. Of course they should receive fewer appeals and more cultivations, always with custom language.

#2 — Promote your monthly giving program across all channels.

Both your current donors and non-donors could be interested in your monthly giving program, particularly as you promote this as one of the safest, easiest and most effective ways to support your organization with flexible revenue to respond to today’s health crisis. Many donors and non-donors alike are feeling more secure than others in their health and finances. They know that this makes them fortunate in the current context — and they are looking for ways to give back to others who are coping with less stable situations.

To make sure they know how to help your organization should they come searching, promote monthly giving everywhere to reach them all:

  • Through direct mail — mention the program in acknowledgment letters and new donor welcome kits.
  • Through email — invite subscribers to join the program in an e-newsletter or by sending special campaigns.
  • On your website, with lightboxes on the donation, home and most visited pages.
  • On social media, with special ads or organic posts.

#3 — Make it easy to become a monthly donor.

When interested donors and prospects come searching, you want to be sure that there are as few barriers as possible to securing the gift! Optimize your website so becoming a monthly donor is easy. Build a page dedicated to your program and create a section for monthly gifts on the donation form with preselected amounts, which tend to boost conversions by 35%[3]. In addition, choose a special contact person to make the program feel more personal, and send donors personalized welcome and thank you notes.

#4 — Thank, cultivate and upgrade monthly donors, now more than ever.

Monthly donors should be pampered throughout their journey with your nonprofit to make sure they stay! Send uplifting welcome and personalized thank you messages, share exclusive stories of impact and suggest other ways they can get involved. Encourage upgrades 6 to 9 months after the first monthly gift, picking significant moments such as holidays and anniversaries.

Ultimately, the key lesson is that monthly donors should feel like insiders to your organization. Right now, that means communicating with them directly and transparently as you navigate any response (in programs or the organization itself) to the COVID-19 pandemic. Phone calls are a great idea now as your donors, like so many others, are craving a human connection. You may have a higher chance of reaching a willing phone call recipient, and this is a valuable moment for you to share your thanks, reiterating the role that they play in safeguarding a cause they care about through this crisis and beyond.

#5 — If you lose a monthly donor, engage with them to revive or continue the relationship.

To prevent donors from lapsing out of the program, we suggest automating reminders to launch before a donor’s credit card expires. But, especially now, you may see monthly donors fall out of the program. In many cases, this may be because of increased economic and financial anxiety — not because they care any less about your mission.

When a donor leaves the program, it is always important to re-engage them, reaching out by email, mail and phone. A month or two from their last gift, it can be extremely valuable to give them a phone call as a check in and to invite them back. It may turn out that they are unwilling or unable to resume their commitment, but in the latter case, this will help to keep your organization at the top of their mind if and when they find themselves in a position to give again.

Need more advice on how to start or grow your monthly giving program, or other fundraising concerns you may have during the COVID-19 pandemic? Reach out to our team: info@faircomny.com.

SOURCES

[1] Network for Good. “The Ultimate Recurring Giving Course”, https://www.networkforgood.com/lesson/why-recurring-giving-matters/.

[2] Dietrich, Carilu. “5 Giving Trends You Need to Know for 2019 and Beyond.”, Classy Blog, https://www.classy.org/blog/giving-trends-2019-and-beyond/

[3] Network for Good. “The Ultimate Recurring Giving Course”, https://www.networkforgood.com/lesson/why-recurring-giving-matters/.

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