Congratulations! You have a monthly giving program. Donors are joining it, and your organization is reaping the benefits of increased giving and amazing donor retention.
There’s something else you can do to make it even more amazing. And I bet you’re afraid to do it.
It’s this: send extra appeals to your monthly donors.
You might think that sending extra appeals will violate an unwritten contract with pledgers, who give what they’re going to give and shouldn’t be asked to do any more than that. You’re afraid breaking that contract will cause your monthly donors to leave you in disgust. As if you killed the goose that laid the golden egg.
Sounds reasonable. But it’s not.
In fact, it’s a myth.
I’ve tested it. And when you send extra appeals to monthly givers, you improve retention rates for those monthly donors. Now they already have retention rates above 90%, so there’s not a huge amount of room for improvement, but improvement happens. Meaning that so far from causing donors to abandon you in disgust, the extra asking helps improve an already superb relationship.
And you raise extra money for the cause you and your donors love.
It’s a classic win-win.
I’m not the only one who has tested this. Large, sophisticated fundraisers with great monthly giving programs know this too, and generally send extra appeals to those donors.
Up to four extra appeals a year. (I haven’t seen more than four, so it may be there’s some negative impact if you send more than that.)
There are two types of monthly donors with whom this does not work: Those who joined by face-to-face (“street” fundraising) and those who were converted from online lead generation. With these groups, extra appeals have not had this same positive impact. So proceed with caution.
But for other monthly donors, you can think of it this way: asking donors to donate is kind of like asking fish to swim or birds to sing. It’s what they do. It’s what they want to do. Giving them the opportunity is not a rude and hurtful intrusion.
The most successful fundraisers are those who are in tune with the fundamental reality that donors want to donate. Fundraisers who see asking for donations as negative miss the whole point — and end up under-serving their donors and under-funding their mission.
Approach fundraising as the life-changing blessing for donors that it is. Then you won’t be afraid to send extra appeals to monthly donors. And you’ll raise more funds from more-dedicated donors.
Don’t miss this related post: The Surprisingly Effective Way to Up Your Fundraising Game and Find Your Most Devoted Donors
Please share your experience with monthly giving by leaving your reply below. We’d love to learn from your experience.
Hi, I wanted to clarify what you meant by ‘and those who were converted from online lead generation. ‘
The vast majority of our new regular donors give online.
I’m referring there to people who originally make contact online (not as donors, but as “engagers” — usually through social media) and who subsequently are recruited into monthly giving (usually by telephone). This is a powerful source of monthly donors when done well … and their behavior is a bit different from more traditional-looking monthly donors. You might want to test extra appeals to your online regular donors to make sure it has the typical positive impact.
What Jeff said. They will work best if they are “emergency” appeals or matching gift appeals.
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