George Bernard Shaw Irish playwright, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925 once observed that “the single biggest problem in communication is the allusion that it has taken place.”
Why is communication important?
As humans, we need to transfer ideas from one person to another on a regular basis.
Nonprofit marketing professionals know that meaningful communication and good stewardship are the basic elements that induce prosperous donations.
While revenue from one-time gifts tends to be inconsistent throughout the year, monthly recurring donations provide a stable source of income, making it easier for organizations to plan and invest in their programs.
Depending on which study you believe and what industry you’re in, The Harvard Business Review reports that acquiring a new customer or donor is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.
Think about integrating a recurring giving plan into your fundraising calendar.
The first step to increasing monthly gifts is to refine the way you communicate with your donors.
Erica Waasdorp an expert on recurring giving estimates that recurring monthly donors cost 2-5 cents per $1.00 raised. On the other hand, direct mail acquisition can cost as much as $1.15 per $1.00 raised.
Waasdorp’s Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant has become a classic resource for creating a recurring giving program.
Here are 5 tips I gathered from her book;
- Make Monthly Giving the Centerpiece of Your Online Giving; if you offer online giving through your website set up a simple recurring gift program. Many credit card processing providers can help with a recurring gift option. In the US, Waasdorp notes that monthly giving online with a credit card is the most popular way for donors to set up their recurring gift.
- Make it Unique; encourage supporters to donate monthly by highlighting your recurring giving program as a special community of esteemed donors. This lets donors know you recognize those who make a big commitment.
- Focus on Small Donations and New Donors; small donors, those who have contributed between $5.00 and $99.00 are your best prospects. So are donors who are most comfortable sharing their credit card information. New donors are good prospects as well if you suggest the recurring option immediately after their first gift. Waasdorp’s research has shown that promoting the recurring option is not a turn-off and does not negatively affect future donations.
- Act Quickly; ask donors to sign up for a recurring gift without delay. You could include that suggestion in your thank you letter, especially if you’re targeting small donors right after they have made a donation. Use the economic logic of the recurring donation model in your ask. For example, “the charity saves money and the donor gets the convenience of not having to think about giving.”
- Use Specific Language; be specific in your ask for a recurring donation. Waasdorp uses SmileTrain as an example. Their copy reads “for $20.00 a month you can give a child a smile again.”
- Get on Top of Churn; credit cards expire, and it’s estimated that 30% of U.S. credit card holders change their credit cards every year. Be proactive and set up a system to catch these incidents and follow up with donors to capture their new card information. For example, an email followed by a letter with a follow up phone call is one system that some organizations use. The key is to follow up quickly.
- Use Ample Marketing; devote one page on your website to monthly giving. Mention your monthly giving program in your newsletters along with a testimonial. Include monthly giving pitches at special events and use social media pages to direct donors to your monthly giving website page.
- Use Custom Email Communications; create a separate email list for your recurring donors. These contacts should receive progress updates, impact stories and messages that thank and celebrate their support. Consider creating a quarterly or bi-annual e-magazine or report specifically for your recurring giving program members. These donors are part of a special group, it’s important to make them feel special for their extra support. Unique communications like these can go a long way in boosting donor satisfaction and trust.
Nurturing a group of monthly donors can do wonders for your nonprofit organization
The revenue will help improve your long-term vision and planning and cut fundraising costs.
With some strategic planning, effective marketing and intentional communication you’ll be well on your way to growing a robust recurring giving program.
Many hold the preconceived notion that marketing is exclusive to the real of for-profit companies and organizations.
Nonprofits are competing for donor interest and need to implement an effective marketing strategy to truly stand out.
In today’s personalized digital age, nonprofit marketing needs to be targeted to have any chance at cutting through the noise and communicating with prospective donors.
If you’d like to learn more about how to make your nonprofit marketing more effective download our resource entitled 10 Questions to Ask Your Marketing Team About Donor Acquisition Strategies.
You can access it here