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Erica Waasdorp

About Erica

Answering the Top 3 Monthly Donor Management Questions

There’s been somewhat of a landslide of late when it comes to “sustainers,” also known as monthly or recurring donors. These are donors who give automatically from a credit/debit card or bank account.

Have you seen these amazing recent statistics?

  • Monthly donor retention rates: 90 percent and up (double the average donor retention rate of 45 percent!)
  • Sixty percent of donors under 35 give monthly.
  • The average monthly gift is $24, or $288 a year.

Tools and systems have changed over the past few years to accommodate monthly giving. You really have no reason not to start a recurring donor program.

So, what is the hesitation?

I’ve found that there are three major questions nonprofit leaders ask all the time. Let me answer these three and allay your monthly-donor fears once and for all!

Question: Why would I start a monthly-donor program when we’re already doing so much fundraising?

Let’s think about your donors for a minute. Many are probably on a fixed income. Or they have kids in school or college. They just can’t write the big checks (right now). With monthly giving, no gift is too small. And you’ll raise more money! Statistics show that monthly donors give up to two to three times more money than if they were just giving single donations.

More importantly, with monthly donors you know that the money will come in. You can plan your programs. It’s almost as good as an insurance policy, especially if you can’t do any other fundraising.

Over the past few months, we’ve seen some major hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires. What if the mail can’t be delivered for a while? What if the power is out and there’s no internet? With monthly donors, the funds will come in, rain or shine, in normal or disaster situations.

Finally, the cost to raise a dollar for monthly donors is typically low, between $0.02 to $0.05. You can get started with minimal investment, using the tools you already have.

Question: How much staff do I need to add to start a monthly giving program?

You can start a monthly giving program with just a little bit of focused time and no extra staff! You have the tools. You just need to get them into the program. Believe me, with just one hour every week, you can accomplish a lot!

It’s important to realize that monthly giving is NOT a one-shot campaign. You need to keep promoting the program. You need to keep asking and the more often you ask, the more monthly donors you’ll generate. Create a plan and keep working it and you’ll do well.

The good news is that if you really stay focused on your program, you’ll get to the stage where you’ll do so well, you’ll be able to hire more staff.

To give you one example: A small animal charity with 2,500 donors has already reached 350 monthly donors, generating some $100,000 a year. That’s the power of monthly giving.

Question: How long does it take to generate 100 monthly donors?

Well, the short answer is that the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get to that stage. Now, I wouldn’t recommend starting with monthly donors if you don’t have any donors yet.

You must have at least some donors and at least some email addresses to get started. Create a plan based on your constituents and see what you can do as part of your communication mix.

It can take shorter or longer, depending upon how many donors you already in place, how many email names you have, how many Facebook followers you have, and how often you think you can add in requests for monthly giving.

The most successful organizations ask all the time, and they’ll get there sooner than later.

Once you do your first campaign, you’ll see how many sustainers you’re able to generate. You can tweak what you’re doing and grow!

So, what are you still waiting for? You can download a free infographic with the Monthly Donor Road Map, download the e-book, the top seven questions on monthly giving and more resources right here.


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