How to Create Lifelong Donors through Monthly Giving

publication date: Jul 26, 2020
author/source: Harvey McKinnon

In the time of COVID-19, a strong monthly giving program is critical to protect the good work you do.

And if we have a second COVID wave in the fall, and even more serious economic disruption, you can count on your monthly donors to continue their regular support.

I've been through a number of recessions, and can assure you that monthly donors are by far the most loyal donors you will have in your database.

There are many things you can do to improve your program. But let's turn things around and show you how to avoid failure.

This is adapted from my new book on monthly giving called: How to Create Lifelong Donors Through Monthly Giving.

How to Avoid Failure:

A university hired a telemarketing company to recruit sustainers for a scholarship fund. The donors pledged $3,000, which would be withdrawn at $83.33 a month for three years. The scholarship would be in either the donor's or a loved one's name.

I cannot reveal the university but, let's call it Ohmygod U.

The campaign worked beautifully. One hundred and twenty-six people signed up, for a total value of $378,000. But the school blew it.

When the monthly gifts expired three years later, Ohmygod U did nothing to try to renew the donors. The $10,500 a month just stopped. Would the majority of these monthly donors have renewed? Yes.

Our university clients with similar scholarships or bursaries have an incredibly high renewal rate.

Ohmygod U lost more than a million dollars in gifts, I estimate, and many students in need were denied needed scholarships.

How the other guys fail

Wise people learn from the mistakes of others, and 19 of these mistakes are listed below. Post this on your bulletin board and encourage everyone in your organization to read it.

Most often, failure with respect to monthly giving is a result of the following:

  1. You don't give individuals a clear reason to join your program.
  2. Your donors or members don't feel special.
  3. You fail to use powerful writing that focuses on the donor.
  4. You make it complicated to join.
  5. You don't test offers, price, and premiums.
  6. You don't invest money to grow the program.
  7. You don't hire people with the skills to grow your program.
  8. You don't analyze your donor segments.
  9. You don't focus on lifetime value.
  10. You don't tell donors how their gifts make a difference.
  11. You don't have a retention program in place.
  12. You don't immediately renew upcoming or lapsed credit card donors.
  13. You don't invite members to special events or to participate in other activities.
  14. You don't attempt to upgrade sustainers on an annual basis
  15. You neglect to inspire an internal sense of urgency around monthly giving.
  16. You fail to use all the channels you can to promote monthly giving.
  17. You don't solicit emergency gifts from monthly donors.
  18. You don't talk to sustainers about legacies.
  19. You forgot to renew for recurring donors who made a 12- month or three-year pledge.

You now know what to avoid.

So, I urge you to invest in your program. When you create a loyal monthly donor base, they will give you money every month, in many cases for the rest of their lives.

Harvey McKinnon is the author of five books including the co-author of the number one bestseller The Power of Giving. It was chosen as an Amazon Best Book of the Year and has been published in nine languages. He wrote the first book on monthly giving : Hidden Gold. And his company Harvey McKinnon Associates works with dozens of non-profits across Canada and the US.

You can buy his new book, How to Create Lifelong Donors Through Monthly Giving here.

 Cover article image from Khu Ruxury via Pexels

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