Erica Waasdorp: Monthly Giving Is Buzzing: What’s the Most Important Stage in a Monthly Donor’s Life?
Monthly giving is growing. Depending upon which provider of online communications you look at, the most recent statistics show that monthly giving accounts for roughly 16-20% of all online giving for 2018, up from 2017.
But what do you have to do before you can bring in those monthly donors? What must happen when you start growing your program? Are you stuck with small monthly donors, or can you upgrade them to higher levels?
Well, let’s look at it as the different life stages in a monthly donor’s life. I’ve identified 5 phases, and I described the first three in my first AP Perspectives column here.
- Becoming a monthly donor (Acquisition phase)
- Getting recognition as a monthly donor (Cultivation phase)
- Being asked to provide updated credit/debit card information (Retention phase)
- Being asked to upgrade the monthly gift (Upgrade phase).
- Being asked to leave the organization in the donor’s will (Legacy Ask phase)
Every single life stage is important. You can’t upgrade if you’re not bringing in new monthly donors. You can’t ask for a legacy gift if you don’t have any monthly donors.
But if you want to make sure that monthly donors can be upgraded or make that ultimate gift, you MUST retain them. Thus, the retention phase is the most crucial and alas, also the most difficult stage.
Think of retention as a way you can prevent your monthly donor (and program) from a mid-life crisis!
The good news is that you can prepare for it! Everything you and I do as fundraisers is all about having the right mind set. If you know that some of your monthly donors’ cards will expire or decline, then that’s half the battle.
Do yourself a favor. Set up a little tracking sheet. How many monthly donors are at risk if you don’t follow-up? What’s their annual value? Is it worth a bit of time to take action? You betcha!
Do yourself an even bigger favor. Write down the process. How do monthly donors get charged? How do you get the information that a monthly donor’s card expired? Do you get an alert from your system ahead of time? Or do you have to wait till this month’s charges have been attempted and you get the error/decline messaging from your bank or credit card company? Who provides you with that information? And how soon?
It’s important to have a plan ready to follow up. If you’re interested, you can download this free monthly donor retention play book and customize it for your organization.
Just remember, the donors didn’t call or write to cancel. They want to continue! You’re doing your monthly donor a favor by asking them to give you their updated information.
So, be sure to act right away and keep your sustainer giving monthly. No mid-life monthly donor crises to avert here but rather continued unrestricted sustainable revenue that keeps on coming!
Erica Waasdorp lives and breathes direct response and fundraising and can be considered a Philanthropyholic. She has published one of the very few books on monthly giving, called Monthly Giving, The Sleeping Giant. She recently created the Monthly Donor Road Map and several e-books to include the Top 7 Questions about Monthly Giving and the Monthly Donor Retention Play-Book. She also co-authored the DonorPerfect Monthly Giving Starter and Marketing Kits. Erica is president of A Direct Solution (www.adirectsolution.com), located on Cape Cod, Mass., and works with nonprofit clients all over the U.S. and internationally, helping them with their appeals, monthly giving, grant writing and PR.