Monthly giving. It’s the powerhouse of any annual fundraising program – simultaneously increasing revenue and donor retention.
According to a study by Network for Good, the average monthly donor gives 42% more annually than single gift donors, and has a higher lifetime value.
And not just that, their retention rates are significantly higher. After one year, monthly donor retention rates are 80%. After 5 years? 95%. Compare that to retention rates of 23% for your new donors, and you can see why monthly giving is worth the investment.
But those retention rates don’t just happen magically.
Any fundraiser will tell you that stewardship is the key to keeping your donors, and that’s no different for your monthly donors.
Once you acquire a monthly donor, it can feel like a “set it and forget it” it kind of deal. But this group shouldn’t go long without hearing from you.
Try to communicate with them on a monthly basis to show them you care and are thinking of their needs. Most charities remove their monthly donors from the majority of their direct mail appeals, so without that regular communication, you’ll need to think about what you put in its place. It doesn’t have to be complicated – and some of it can even be automated or done with the help of volunteers.
Welcome your new donors
The first thing you should do when someone signs up to become a monthly donor is say thank you. Give them a call immediately and thank them for their gift. You can even gently probe to find out what compelled them to sign up.
The next thing you should do is send them some kind of welcome package. This can be unique to your charity, but a standard package can include:
A thank you letter that is signed by a real person, ideally even with a handwritten note
A welcome newsletter with a thank you message, an impact story, and details about gift processing
An optional token of appreciation – I’ve seen everything from magnets to friendship bracelets It’s best if you can tie this token into your organization’s mission, and don’t make it too extravagant
Send this all to your donor in a hand-addressed envelope with a real stamp
Plan your relationship touch points
Rather than reach out to your monthly donors ad hoc, you can create a touchpoint calendar with planned activities. This will help you make sure you’re consistent with all of your donors, and are connecting with them at regular, appropriate intervals. If you have the resources, aim for some kind of touchpoint once a month or once every 2 months, and think about how much you can automate.
While variety is nice, don’t get too caught up in making every touchpoint different from the next. What’s most important is that you’re doing them. But if you’re stuck for ideas, here are some activities you can incorporate into your plan:
Once a year, call to say thanks. This call can be from you, a volunteer, or even better, from a beneficiary.
Send a special segmented monthly newsletter or enewsletter. If you’re already sending these out, swap out some copy for some tailored messaging for this group.
Segment your direct mail appeals. For example, use variable copy within the letter, a special monthly donor lift note, or a different package altogether.
Send thank you videos featuring your beneficiaries. Nothing fancy here. Grab your smartphone or iPad and get filming. No slick production necessary.
Celebrate your donors’ milestones with them, like birthdays or the anniversary of their first monthly gift.
Give them the inside scoop by sharing news, updates, and campaigns with them first.
Host a special monthly donor appreciation event or invite them to exclusive organizational events.
Invite your monthly donors in for a tour to show them how much their gifts make a difference.
Send handwritten thank you notes. Nothing like opening a card with a message from a real human to feel connected to a cause.
Get to know them better, ask for their opinions, and involve them in decision making. You can do this through surveys, focus groups, and one-on- one meetings.
Keep it simple
Don’t get overly complicated with how you plan to steward your monthly donors. You don’t need any flashy technology to build a relationship. The simpler your action plan, the easier it will be to execute, and the more authentic it will feel.
Ashleigh Saith, co-founder, Charity Savant
Ashleigh Saith is a fundraiser and nonprofit leader with years of experience working in small- and mid-sized nonprofits. She’s passionate about nonprofit marketing and leadership, and found herself with a shocking knack for finance. Ashleigh is currently the Manager of Annual Programs at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation. She was formerly the Director of Development and Partnerships at Interval House, and is a graduate of the Humber Fundraising Management Program.
Join Ashleigh for our February 2018 FREE monthly masterclass where we'll talk all things monthly giving. Register here.