Strong Monthly Giving Program
BooksMonthly Giving

How to Build a Strong Monthly-Giving Program in Less Than One Afternoon

Book Review: How to Create Lifelong Donors through Monthly Giving by Harvey McKinnon

The most important thing you need to know about fundraising is this:

Everything you do is about finding and stewarding three types of donors:

  1. Major (and mid-value) donors.
  2. Bequest donors.
  3. Recurring (mainly monthly) donors.

If you aren’t actively helping donors join one (or more) of those categories, your fundraising program is almost certainly unsustainable.

Of those three types, major giving and bequest giving are a challenge, because only a small percentage of donors can or want to do those things.

But any donor can become a recurring donor, and the percentage of donors who are open to it is much greater than the other two groups.

But don’t get the idea that getting recurring donors is easy. It’s not.

That’s why you need to read Harvey McKinnon’s latest book.

It is a simple, fact-based, no-nonsense guide, from one of our industry greats. Harvey knows what he’s talking about!

This book is a quick read — you can get through the whole book in one sitting — there are 40 chapters, but most of them are two or three pages long. But that doesn’t mean the book is thin on details. It has everything you need to know to launch a successful monthly giving program:

  • Want to know what should you name your monthly giving program?
  • Want to know how much should you ask people to give each month?
  • Looking for the best ways to find and recruit those monthly donors?
  • Can you ask monthly donors to give even more?
  • How should you collect those monthly donations?

Just as important, Harvey equips you to make the case to sometimes-skeptical bosses or boards for why you should create (or improve) your monthly giving program:

  • We will raise more money — significantly more.
  • We will develop a more positive relationship with our donors.
  • Our monthly donors will stay with us, giving for four years longer than other donors.
  • We can rely on sustainers to keep income flowing in year-round and year after year.
  • We’ll lower our cost of fundraising.
  • Our income will grow over time.

Reading this book could change the financial future of your organization.

Whether you’re just starting to consider monthly giving for the first time, or a long-time veteran and you want to up your game, read this book!

When you join The Fundraisingology Lab, you get access to Harvey McKinnon’s powerful online course, How to Raise Money AND Change the World. You also can take our popular online workshop Matched Giving Magic, taught by Erica Waasdorp. And that’s just the beginning of what you’ll have available. Check out membership now!

Related Blog Posts:

CFRE Points:
Pop Art Millennials party dancing e1521411436406

What Millennials Can Do for Your Organisation (or rather, What Millennials Can Do TO Your Organisation)

What’s the best way to get donations from people under 40 years old?

Wait until they are over 40.

No, I’m not making a joke.

With rare exceptions, people under 40 are not a priority for fundraising approaches. They are hard to find, harder to persuade to give, and extremely hard to keep as ongoing donors.

Even face to face (street fundraising), which is squarely aimed at Gen X donors, finds that older Gen X donors give more than their younger Gen X peers.  That is, 45-year-olds give meaningfully more than 35-year-olds, and they stay with their organisation longer.

You’ve probably heard the belief that we should acquire donors while they are young — because that will make them more likely to support us when they get older. That’s not entirely flawed. But if you just step back and think about it logically, it doesn’t quite hold together.

Say it costs $50 to acquire a new donor, regardless of age. (Actually, younger donors cost more to acquire, because they’re less responsive.  But we’ll put that aside for now.) The older donors you get will be worth more in almost every possible way. They’ll have:

  • Higher average donation
  • Higher second gift rate
  • Higher retention (especially in monthly giving)
  • Higher amounts raised (in events)
  • Higher chance of supporting an event again
  • Higher lifetime value
  • Higher chance of putting you in their will… and a very much higher chance of realising that legacy sooner
  • Higher chance of becoming a major donor
  • Higher chance of responding to most of your communications

Now if you’re thinking, “We’ll just keep those younger donors until they age into the higher value category.”  It won’t happen. Donors simply don’t stay with charities for multiple decades. Even older donors have a typical life-cycle with any given organisation of 7 to 10 years. Younger donors much less.

So the “get them young” plan goes like this:

  1. Spend more up-front to get them.
  2. Get less revenue from them.
  3. Lose them sooner.
  4. Then re-acquire them about 20 years later when they age into typical donor age.

It’s a terrible deal!  Skip the first three steps and go right to the fourth one.

However, that does not mean you shouldn’t communicate with younger people.

Think of it this way: Older people almost certainly donated more in the Ice Bucket Challenge of a couple of years ago than did younger people – even though there were likely fewer of them giving. But those older donors would never have known about the Challenge if it weren’t for all that fervent sharing by millennials.

Millennials can also show up at events in large numbers, and essentially be your “foot soldiers” when you want to get a lot of publicity. They just don’t consistently make the kind of donors we need.

This seems to apply in most countries, but just recently I was shown data on public fundraising in China. About 50% of the donations through Chinese social media platform, WeChat, came from 27-37 year olds.

This opens a new question for us all: in emerging fundraising countries, like China, will what we think of as fundraising ‘facts’ remain the same!?

Please share your experience with young donors by leaving your reply below. We’d love to learn from your experience.

CFRE Points:
Pop Art Surprised woman banknote hundred dollars e1528105619960
Monthly Giving

The Surprisingly Effective Way to Up Your Fundraising Game and Find Your Most Devoted Donors

This may come as a surprise, but one of the most financially significant things any nonprofit activist organization can do is have a monthly giving program.

Monthly giving programs are the lifeblood of many of the biggest activist organizations. Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and Oxfam all have more than a million monthly donors around the world. But many smaller organizations also are sustained by regular $20 a month donations from hundreds or thousands of people.

Just to make it extra clear what I’m talking about:  Monthly giving is the act of regularly donating a fixed amount of money to a nonprofit, usually automatically through direct debit or electronic funds transfer, or by credit card — but in some cases by check. Moving a donor to monthly giving increases their annual value by a factor of three to five times or more.  More important, it improves donor annual retention rates usually to better than 90%.

On top of that many monthly donors will give for 20 years or more.  I am giving to seven monthly giving programs, some of them for more than 35 years. I will continue to donate as long as I live. It is a real source of satisfaction for me as a donor … and of dependable, lasting revenue for those organizations.

Monthly giving not only improves revenue well into the future, it also helps reduce revenue volatility and can improve your organizational long-term planning.

What monthly giving is not

Despite the recurring nature of the gifts, a monthly program is not time-consuming to maintain, says Rosemary Oliver, fundraising director at Amnesty International Canada in Toronto. “It doesn’t take a lot of additional resources,” she explains. “Just a little time up front to strategize.” If your nonprofit is able to process credit card gifts, you already have everything you need to handle monthly gifts. The process is automatic, requiring only occasional attention, such as when a donor’s credit card expires.

To find what works best for your organization, Oliver recommends testing the waters with a few hundred monthly, small­gift donors to build confidence. “Your organization may need to learn to walk before it runs,” she says. “That’s fine. It’s about finding your own level of efficiency.”

Oliver points to her organization’s success with monthly giving as an indicator of what can be done when starting from a humble beginning. Twenty years ago, Amnesty International Canada had a modest monthly giving program with 7,000 donors that generated less than $1 million a year. Today, more than 35,000 monthly donors give $8.8 million a year in monthly gifts ranging from $1 to $1,000.

The program accounts for 65% of its annual revenue. And if that doesn’t grab your interest, consider this: nearly three-quarters of Amnesty International Canada’s legacy gifts come from monthly donors. “As you can see, it is worth taking the time to steward those $10­-a-­month donors,” Oliver says. “They really add up in the long run.”

How to succeed with your monthly giving program

The single largest obstacle to a successful monthly giving program is buy­-in within your organization. Because it is a long­-term strategy, a monthly giving program does not always compare favorably with fundraising methods that provide more immediate revenue, such as direct mail and online giving.

A successful monthly giving program requires leadership and staff to take the long view, nurturing and growing the program slowly but steadily.  It is a clear “hare and tortoise” situation … and the tortoise wins every time.

Assess how much short-term money you’re willing to risk. And be realistic about organizational commitment — after all, without commitment, your effort to build a monthly program will fizzle out, which is really almost a betrayal of those loyal donors who signed on in the first place. Look at how many donors you have and what the likelihood is of converting them to monthly donors.

Successful conversion requires a balanced suite of revenue channels that identify prospective monthly donors and feed them into the monthly giving program. (The two exceptions to this are direct recruitment of new donors into monthly giving. The primary methods for this are face­-to-face and direct response television [DRTV], both of which are very expensive to start.)

I once had a client that was generating more than 50% of their revenue through monthly giving. They were so happy with this that they thought it would be a smart move to stop investing in single­ gift donors and instead put all their money into monthly giving, using focused but high-attribution streams like DRTV. It did not go well. If they had continued to build their single­ gift program, they’d have a higher net income and a larger pool of donors to convert to monthly giving. Any organization can convert a percentage of its donors to monthly, but it does take leadership and commitment.

Monthly giving can be especially important for activist organizations. And it’s one of the things I’ll tell you more about in my Moceanic course, How to Raise Millions and Change the World: 40 years of secrets that will get you more donors, bigger gifts and win your campaigns!  You will be able to access this course and more when you join The Fundraisingology Lab. I hope you can join me because there is so much we need to do to make the world a better place for everyone … and so many ways to improve our fundraising to make it happen!

CFRE Points:
Pop Art Protester African American e1520237053583

Activism Organisers: Why You Should Know About Fundraising

Jeff Brooks, Fundraisingologist at Moceanic and Harvey McKinnon of Harvey McKinnon Associates, explore the amazing overlaps between activism and fundraising. The two things, often seen as extremely different, are really two sides of the same coin. Understanding fundraising can make activists far more effective!

If you are an activist fundraiser for a campaigning nonprofit or involved in advocacy, make sure you check out Harvey McKinnon’s online course, How to Raise Millions AND Change the World. You can access this when you join The Fundraisingology Lab.

And please share your thoughts by leaving your reply below. We’d love to learn from your experience.

CFRE Points:
Pop Art Woman pilot salutes 1

What’s Your ‘Wedge’ in Campaigning? You Need it to Win!

Lynne Boardman and Harvey McKinnon of Harvey McKinnon Associates look at a powerful way of winning over “swing” voters and supporters — the Wedge.

It’s a way to get the support of people who are “on the fence.” This works in political campaigning and other types of advocacy.

If you are an activist fundraiser for a campaigning nonprofit or involved in advocacy, make sure you check out Harvey McKinnon’s online course, How to Raise Millions AND Change the World that is available for all members of The Fundraisingology Lab.

And please share your thoughts by leaving your reply below. We’d love to learn from your experience.

CFRE Points:
Pop Art Businesswoman Holding Cash e1517480944956
Direct Mail

Why Direct Mail is SO Powerful: Even Now

Harvey McKinnon, Harvey McKinnon Associates, and Sean Triner, Fundraisingologist at Moceanic take a close look at direct mail, the most important source of donors and donations in most countries around the world.

Direct mail not only raises a lot of money … it is the best source for major donors and future bequests. These two factors alone make direct mail a must-do for many nonprofit organisations.

Click here to sign up for The Fundraisingology Lab and get access to our course 7 Steps to Creating Record-Smashing Direct Mail and many more.

CFRE Points:
Pop Art Businessman watered money dollars from a watering can e1515052363699
Monthly Giving

How Can I Get More Monthly Donors Without a Big Budget?

Christiana Stergiou, Fundraisingologist with Moceanic, and Harvey McKinnon, Harvey McKinnon Associates tackle an important question from blog reader Bec:

How can I get more monthly givers without a big budget?

You’ll find the answers remarkably helpful. Because a big budget is not the most important key to getting those important monthly donors!

Please share your thoughts by leaving your reply below. We’d love to learn from your experience.

CFRE Points:
Pop Art Business Woman with Money e1511147400730
FundraisingMajor and Mid Value Donors

Mid-Value Donors: Neglected and Desperate to Help

Harvey McKinnon, Harvey McKinnon Associates, and Sean Triner, Fundraisingologist at Moceanic, discuss that important group of donors who fall between your top donors and your general donors.

Learn how to treat them and communicate with them in ways that will keep them giving — or even upgrade to much larger amounts. It’s one of the most important and least-practiced ways to maximize revenue.

Want to know more about Mid-Value Donors? Sean covers this important topic in the Mid-Value Donor Super Course which is available for all members of The Fundraisingology Lab. Find out more here.

CFRE Points:
Marketers and Fundraisers need to work together to achieve their goals

MarComms Are Not the Enemy: How to Explain Why Fundraising Writing Is Different

Harvey McKinnon, of Harvey McKinnon Associates, and Jeff Brooks, Fundraisingologist, Moceanic, talk about the all-too-common problem of marketing/communications departments weakening fundraising.

It often feels like it, but marketing people are not the enemy! There needs to be an understanding between fundraisers and marketers. That’s where the two disciplines can “click” — and raise more money by working together!

Want to really master the art of nonprofit communications? Take Jeff’s 4-session masterclass, Irresistible Communications for Great Nonprofits that is available for all members of The Fundraisingology Lab.

These action-packed sessions will help you be a master communicator – with lots of real-life examples that will inspire and motivate you. You can even get CFRE credit!

CFRE Points: