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by Candice Briddell

As many of us experienced just a few years ago, periods of wealth and abundance are great.  But the new reality is that there is no longer an abundance of people with vast disposable income that can spread their wealth to a wide variety of charities and causes.  Instead, we are working with a finite pool of donors who have been forced to narrow down where their charitable donations are going.

As a result, many organizations have had to adjust their budgets and quickly learn how to market smarter and work with what they have by striving to increase donor retention.  I constantly come across industry publications and blogs abuzz with ideas on how to make this happen and maximize your investment of the ever-growing costs of acquisition by offering ways to hold on to these donors longer.  These strategies run the gamut and can include things like a new donor conversion series, designed to get that magical second gift while you are still top of mind, predictive modeling, and creative cultivation techniques.

With all these great new strategies you are managing, how much attention does your monthly sustainer program receive?  It is easy to lose sight of these folks because results are “good enough”, while other areas of your fundraising strategies may be struggling and require the often-strained resources of today’s organizations.

As a consultant, looking from the outside, it certainly seems that the monthly giving programs are on auto-pilot for many organizations.  And it is certainly easy to see why.  These donors don’t require much work and they are one of the most valuable segments for both immediate support and long term planned gifts.  But when they do lapse, the impact can hurt – and pretty badly in some cases.  It is truly important to have strategies in place to minimize attrition within this program.   What is your organization doing to:

  • Increase initial fulfillment – Get that first gift fulfilled as quickly as possible.  The sooner you can send out their monthly statement, the more likely they are to remember why they committed to donate each month.
  • Update credit card information – both expired and rejected.  In this fast moving world of finance, credit card issues can significantly impact your bottom line.  Don’t let these donors fall through the cracks.
  • Reach out to donors that have fallen delinquent – Find what speaks to these donors – is it a call at 60 days?  A back-end premium offer?  Do whatever you have to do to get these folks back in the program.

Some organizations send a monthly statement, others send nothing.  Regardless of what works for your organization, don’t let these donors forget why writing that check each and every month is so important.  Cultivation pieces are a great way to keep these donors informed.

And don’t be afraid to send these donors appeals – we find that many organizations are gun-shy about asking their donors for another gift outside of their monthly pledge.  Start gradually until you find that sweet spot.  You might be surprised that they are happy to send extra gifts on occasion, especially if you speak to them as part of the family.

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Candice Briddell is an Account Director for MINDset direct with over 10 years of experience in fundraising and marketing. MINDset direct is a practice dedicated to guiding non-profit organizations as they build deeper donor commitment through innovative strategies and effective communication. Candice can be reached at cbriddell@mindsetdirect.com.