The true value of monthly donors is undisputed. Securing just 30 monthly donors at $20 per month may generate only a monthly revenue stream of $600, but over the next 12 months their contributions will add up to $7,200. And time, effort and expenses are saved because there is no need to keep sending repeated “asks”. The “lifetime value” of any of these donors who may continue to donate for 5, 10 or even 20 years can be a huge bonus.
When Should You Ask For a Monthly Gift?
At every given opportunity. You can ask a new donor as early as a week after they have made their first donation. Or you can push long-standing board members to convert to monthly giving at every meeting.
Who Should You Ask?
Segmentation of your house list helps determine which donors are more likely to respond to a request for a monthly gift. For example:
- Leave the $100+ donors aside. Rather, look at your donor base and identify those donors who have made small gifts, even $5 or $10 twice a year. Any donor who has made two or three contributions over the last 18 months should be encouraged to join a monthly-giving plan. If they give frequently you know they are loyal donors who believe in your cause, so encourage them to convert.
Asking your $100+ level and multi gift donors might jeopardize their “lifetime value” by inadvertently moving them to a lower-value monthly gift.
How to Ask for Monthly Donations
- Give your monthly giving program a name like the one below for the Toronto Humane Society.
- If you can, frame your monthly giving request as an opportunity to join a special group with special privileges.
- If you have a leadership-giving program where membership is $1,000 per year, show them that a monthly giving plan of just $84 every month is lot easier than writing a cheque for the full amount every year.
- Package the appeal in an exciting way. For example, some organizations have a Gold Club program or a Help-a-Child Monthly program. Put a face on that sustainable gift. This way you’re creating a tangible tie to the idea of giving every month. Remember: to increase charitable donations, you should appeal to the heart, not the head.
- Devote one side of the donation form to convincing donors to convert to monthly giving.
- Use variable copy for each specific segment. Remind them of their last gift, the amount of the contribution and tell them how it was used.
- Allow them to choose their donation amount, method of payment and even the timing as to when they should start.
- Show donors how their monthly gift buys something specific. For example just above the donor form or near it show a breakdown of what each donation amount could accomplish.
How to Promote Monthly Giving
- Use every medium: website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, direct mail, email, telephone and even face-to-face are all great ways of getting donors to convert.
- When incorporating a monthly giving option, be careful how and where you talk it up in your letter. Often just a mention of monthly giving in the letter’s P.S. works better than including lots of text on the subject in the body copy.
- Include a monthly giving option on your response device only to current donors. Prospects generally don’t respond well to this option. Though this is generally true, test it out with your own donors.
- If you do try to convert new prospects, remember they need more inducement before they decide to donate or become monthly donors. As per the example below:
- Consider a test to convert sponsors to monthly giving by offering benefits like the ones below.
- A donor who has lapsed in giving may need a different kind of approach. For example, this mailing for United Way Montreal used a survey to find out why they had lapsed. The result: it won back many donors with a 4.9% response and gained some valuable information about their lapsed donors.
Front of Letter/order Form & Survey
Back of Letter/order Form & Survey
For more reading on this topic, see Harvey McKinnon’s book Hidden Gold and Erica Waasdorp’s Monthly Giving The Sleeping Giant.