Monthly Giving: Start Small, Make it Big

Yesterday I was privileged to attend a panel of nonprofit leaders working in our state of Colorado. These organizations are on the front lines of social and political debate in this country, representing immigrants, the LGBTQ community, and women’s rights.

There was much discussion about the toll that the current political climate is taking on these organizations. More and more people are looking to them for support, but the funding environment for their work has become less and less stable.

After the panel, I asked Susan Buchanan, Executive Director of Boulder Valley Women’s Health, how they were coping with the volatility of their funding streams. She said that the organization was working hard to encourage monthly giving. The revenue from monthly giving provides a stable base that it can count on as other funding streams swirl around it.

In this current environment, the case for creating a monthly giving program has never been stronger. People are looking for a way to be connected. They are looking for a way to make a difference and this kind of consistent support is vital for the health of any organization.

It’s not just good for the organization. It’s also easier for the donor. In a world where there is so much paper work and e-mail, it’s incredibly appealing for a donor to set a monthly gift that automatically comes from their bank account or credit card. Forget about any more direct mail or phone calls. They’ve got their donations covered!

Any-sized organization can start a monthly giving program today. The sooner you get started, the sooner your organization will reap the benefits.

Here what you need to start a monthly giving program:

  • A name and a brand for your monthly giving club: This makes monthly donors feel part of something special.
  • The “back-end” systems to take care of your donors: Make sure that you have the ability to collect monthly giving payment electronically and can easily make changes to donors’ monthly giving information.
  • A monthly giving point person: This doesn’t have to be a full-time position, but someone who monthly donors can call if they need to make a change or have a question.
  • Adjustments to your donate page to promote monthly giving: Most organizations should have options to do this through their online giving platforms. For a simple example, look at Boulder Valley Women’s Health page here.
  • Inaugural donors: Ask your staff and board members – it’s an easy way for them to make their gifts as well!

To get more monthly donors, consider these ideas:

  • Find those who are already giving to your organization frequently and ask them to switch to monthly giving. Do this through a phone call or personal e-mails.
  • Put a monthly giving option in your thank you letters as a donor service option. This is not an additional ask, but a way people can give more efficiently.
  • Include testimonials from monthly donors in donor newsletters and annual reports. People like to know that others give this way and value it.
  • Have a link to monthly giving options from your online communications. Info about monthly giving should be on e-blasts, e-appeals, and e-mail signatures.
  • Put a monthly giving challenge in place (“Help us get 25 monthly donors in 6 months”). Consider a challenge match from a supportive donor.
  • Ask key volunteers to spread the word about monthly giving to other volunteers. You could even have volunteers coordinators make it part of their orientation packet for volunteers.

To keep your monthly donors, make sure to do these things:

  • Personally thank your monthly donors for their special support on a regular basis. Consider creative ways to show your appreciation.
  • If a donor’s bank or credit card information expires, contact them right away to get updated details.
  • Provide good stewardship by sending information about the work monthly donations support.
  • Call your monthly donors once a year and ask them to upgrade their gift by a small amount (as little as $1 per month).
  • Celebrate anniversaries – let people know that you’ve noticed if they’ve been a donor for a year, or two, or five!

Getting a monthly donor program going is the hardest part, but it’s way worth it!

These donors provide a stable base for years to come. And monthly giving creates a structure to build longer, more meaningful relationships with your donors. Monthly giving donors are more likely than other kinds of donors to make bequest gifts to organizations they support.

Don’t delay! Who knows what the future will bring? But with your monthly donors on board, your can weather all kinds of storms.

 

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Category: Individual Giving
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About Leslie Allen
For 15 years I worked for Greenpeace – one of the most powerful brands in the world – and I’ve taken the years of learning at large organizations and translated it to work for mid-sized and smaller grassroots organizations here all over the world. Learn More About Leslie...