Monthly giving programs can be a dependable source of funding for any nonprofit. Your organization has probably seen some success with your regular giving program, but you may feel you can be doing more to expand your monthly donor pool for greater fundraising returns.
Your nonprofit undoubtedly has a wide swath of supporters or infrequent donors who are willing to become monthly donors. The key to engaging them lies in improving your communication strategy surrounding your monthly giving program.
At Aly Sterling Philanthropy, we help nonprofits discover untapped opportunities to make the most of their fundraising channels and reach their funding goals. We’ve come up with four ways nonprofits can illuminate the importance of monthly giving programs to their supporters to convert them to monthly donors. To achieve greater success with recurring giving, fundraising professionals should:
- Understand supporter motivations
- Enhance donor communications
- Show the impact of monthly gifts
- Highlight convenience
Treat your communication strategy as a two-way street between you and your supporters; you want to inform and empower them to deepen their involvement with your organization, but you also want to gain an understanding of donor motivations and preferences to better serve their needs. Let’s take a closer look at how you can accomplish this.
Understand supporter motivations
Before you can embark on the quest to engage new donors in your monthly giving program, you should first gain an understanding of what inspired current monthly donors to get involved. Use the insights you glean from your recurring donors to improve your donor cultivation and stewardship efforts going forward.
You can send out a survey to current monthly donors with the following questions:
- What inspired you to start contributing to our monthly giving program?
- What is your preferred method of receiving information about our monthly giving program (email, texts, social media or another source)?
- How can we improve your experience as a monthly donor?
The responses you receive from these surveys will provide a blueprint for how to attract and engage with new monthly donors to transform the program into a more effective fundraising channel.
For instance, say you hear from many monthly donors that they were inspired to get involved after seeing your organization’s YouTube videos highlighting your mission and impact. Additionally, an overwhelming majority of your monthly donors may express a preference for receiving updates via your email newsletter. With this information, you know you should promote your YouTube videos more in the future and use email campaigns to connect with prospective monthly donors.
Also, it’s always smart to check in with current monthly donors to see if they have any feedback on their experience or suggestions to improve the program. For example, if donors say they’d like to receive fewer messages with more informational points per message, you can adjust your communications schedule to appeal to their preferences.
You can keep donors engaged by responding to their desires. Plus, these check-ins let donors know their opinions are valued, promoting more goodwill with your organization.
Using the data collected from surveys and interviews, you can take data-driven, actionable steps to enhance your communication strategy with future prospective donors.
But before you take on a project of this size, keep in mind that hiring a nonprofit consultant can help you implement new strategies using their experience and knowledge. These professionals can fill any gaps your team may lack on the tech or implementation side to give your organization a plan of action for not only your monthly giving program but also any other fundraising or strategic planning efforts.
Enhance donor communications
Once you gain a greater understanding of your monthly donors’ motivations and preferences, you can use this information to implement two new communication strategies: diversifying your marketing channels and segmenting donors to increase your odds of conversion.
Diversify marketing channels
Optimize your marketing platforms such as your email newsletter, direct mail appeals, social media pages and phone campaigns to distribute information about how to get involved in your monthly giving program. Fundraising teams should:
- Send out scheduled reminders about your monthly giving program in your email newsletter. You can also share the successes of the previous month’s giving goals.
- Use direct mail to get supporters on board. Include a compelling story within your direct mail messages to entice more monthly donors. Be sure to personalize your direct mail messages by including recipient names.
- Keep supporters updated on social media. Use your social pages to tell stories about how the program has impacted your organization’s ability to provide more goods or services to those in need.
- Call or text supporters with new opportunities. Phone calls can be a great way to develop stronger, long-lasting relationships by getting to know supporters on a personal level.
By using a combination of marketing channels in tandem, you can increase your organization’s reach without overwhelming supporters with too much information on any one platform. Be sure to ramp up your marketing efforts during charitable times of the year such as Giving Tuesday or the end of the year when folks want to get in that last tax-deductible donation.
Segment donor communications
Donor segmentation is a tried-and-tested communication strategy that can enhance donor engagement in your organization’s fundraising efforts. DNL OmniMedia’s guide to donor segmentation explains the reasoning: by creating segments, nonprofits can send supporters only information that’s most relevant to them, which they’re most likely to engage with. Using this technique, you show respect for donors’ time and avoid overflowing their inbox with irrelevant information.
Combine the data you collected in your monthly donor surveys with the information you already had in your CRM on your monthly donors to create a prospect profile. Then, create a communications segment to send this group information highlighting the impact and benefits of getting involved in your monthly giving program.
Analyze the successes of your donor communication efforts by keeping track of which of your prospects convert to monthly donors. You can create models based on the most successful strategies that will guide your future communications.
Show the impact of monthly gifts
In all your communication and marketing efforts, emphasize the importance of your monthly giving program for allowing your nonprofit to carry out its mission effectively.
Your impact stories should be specific, detailed and supported by data.
For example, let’s say your nonprofit is focused on cleaning local beaches and other waterways of debris and garbage. Perhaps your monthly giving program sponsors one clean-up per month by providing tools and resources needed for volunteer groups to collect and dispose of trash.
In your marketing appeals, share stories of how these monthly clean-ups have brought a rare species of fish back into a waterway or allowed local children to start playing in the sand on a nearby beach again. Additionally, you can share photos of local waterways before and after the clean-up events to demonstrate the visible impact of these initiatives.
Specific, compelling stories help prospective monthly donors understand the importance of your monthly giving program and how their donations will make an immediate impact. Lean into the emotional side of your nonprofit’s mission to intensify supporters’ empathy for your cause.
In your communications and marketing efforts for your monthly giving program, highlight not only the impact and importance of monthly gifts for your organization’s overall mission but also the convenience of these giving programs. Donors simply input their information once and automatically contribute to your cause each month, making this one of the easiest ways they can support your organization.
Additionally, be sure to share how donors can maximize the monetary value of their recurring donation through matching gift programs. In matching gift programs, corporations match donations made by their employees to eligible nonprofits. Supporters just have to submit a request to get their gifts matched. These programs improve the donor experience because supporters are empowered by seeing how their gifts can have an even greater impact on your nonprofit’s cause than they initially thought.
Be sure to spread the word about the simplicity of your recurring gifts program and matching gift opportunities to lessen any perceived barriers or hesitations that prospective donors might have about getting involved.
By implementing these communications strategies, your nonprofit will be well on its way to inspiring more donors to get involved in your monthly giving program. Remember, a fundraising consultant can give your organization the boost it needs to tackle and enact a new strategy. Check out this guide to help make your consultant decision. You’ve got this!
Author: Aly Sterling
Long before Aly Sterling founded her eponymous consulting firm, she was solving the unique yet similar problems encountered by nonprofit organizations.
Her decision to start her own business in 2007 was driven by her belief in leadership as the single most important factor in organizational success, and her determination to work with multiple causes at one time to scale societal change.
Aly’s expertise includes fundraising, strategic planning, search consultation and board leadership development for the well-positioned nonprofit. She is regularly sought for comment by trade and mainstream media, including the Chronicle of Philanthropy and U.S. News & World Report. She has contributed to publications of BoardSource and The Governance Institute, as well as the Toledo Chamber of Commerce and The Giving Institute.