Like many professionals in the fundraising industry, I am a nut about making lists and reminders about our fundraising programs and the things that should not be overlooked. About this time every year my Outlook reminder flag goes off every morning with the question, “Have you mailed your monthly donors the best appeal of 2011?”
It doesn’t matter whether you call it a pledge program, recurring gift program, monthly giving program, sustainer program or preauthorized gift program it is the same technique and, as you know, they all add up to a huge additional revenue stream for every organization or charity.
People sign up for pre-authorized programs because it makes it easy to support their favorite charity, while NOT getting bombarded with direct mail and email. However, just because you have pledged to reduce the amount of mail the donor receives does not mean that you never mail them. Most monthly donors expect a year end appeal so that they can make a special gift above and beyond their monthly gift.
As a matter of fact, I truly believe it is poor stewardship to not have presented you most compelling need of the year to your monthly donors. Monthly giving is so successful because it focuses on how the donor wishes to give. Over the last 30 years I have never talked to a monthly donor who would want to be excluded from the most significant campaign of the year. As a matter of fact, sustainers are more likely to get upset with the organization for excluding them than they are for sending them an additional piece of mail.
There are huge advantages to reaching out to your sustainers before the end of the year. Target Analytics released a study last year highlighting just some of the advantages in have monthly donors and keeping them engaged in your key projects:
- Monthly sustainers give significantly more per year than single gift donors
- Monthly sustainers have higher retention rates than single gift donors.
- The majority of sustainers continue as sustainers when they renew each year.
- The higher retention rates from sustainers result in much higher loyalty over the long term.
- Monthly sustainers account for 10% of the donor population, contributing 21% of all charitable income in the industry.
- Multi-year sustainers give on average 9 gifts per year compared to a multi-year single gift donor that gives on average 1.6 gifts per year. Note: 9 gifts out of 12 per year equal a 75% fulfillment rate.
A recurring donations program will dramatically increase the lifetime value of your donors while reducing your cost of fundraising. It takes time, patience and tenacity but most importantly it is recognizing that monthly donors are YOUR MOST COMMITTED SUPPORTERS. These special people need to be given the opportunity each and every year to take part in your organizations most critical projects.
The most amazing part about doing a year-end appeal to your monthly donors is that you will likely see a 300% to 500% lift in response compared to your regular donors. If you do it correctly seeing a 10%, 15% 20% or even a 25% response rate is not unprecedented.
So go ahead, write your monthly donors. I can promise you they are waiting to hear directly from you before the year’s end.