Questions and Answers about Monthly Giving


As you know, we’ve been talking about monthly donors for the past few weeks.

And you may have seen my Facebook Live interviews here and here with monthly giving guru Erica Waasdorp.

It’s been tremendously fun and exciting to get lots of feedback and questions from attendees.

Here is another guest post from Erica – responding to many of the questions we are receiving from our attendees.

1. Where to start with monthly giving?

There is really no standard plan for monthly giving. Every monthly donor plan is tailor-made because no organization is the same!

Some organizations do numerous appeals a year to their donors. Others have an extensive email outreach program but don’t have many donors yet.

Where you are in your current donor and email address numbers drives what you can do in growing your number of monthly donors.

Fact is that most organizations are just starting to scratch the surface.

And trust me, staff resources needed are pretty limited. You can do a lot with a little bit of time and focus.

37 Sustainers right at the start

One of our organizations mentioned how they just started with their low hanging ‘fruit’, like staff, volunteers, board.

And they’re already at 37 monthly donors. Just think those 37 sustainers already generate almost $11,000! That’s the power of monthly giving.

2. Should we include the monthly ask in our regular appeal – or send a separate stand-alone ask?

Let me respond in a different way: Send monthly asks only to certain targeted donors – not to all donors.

First: only send monthly asks to donors who have made single gifts of less than $250.

Your most likely monthly donor prospects are smaller donors – those who are giving $250, $100 per year or less. So separate out these donors for your monthly giving appeals.

Keep the single ask for the $250+ donors so you’ll get bigger checks from them.

Second, consider adding the monthly donor ask as an option on your general reply form – but test it out.

Some organizations find that just listing the option on the reply form can generate new monthly donors — without it hurting the one-time donations.

But, I’ve also seen some organizations where that option can lower response and overall results.

So it’s important to test it out with your own donors.

Third, create a special appeal smaller donors who have given by credit card in the past 6 months.

Since these donors are your most likely prospects,  specific request to them.

When you separate out these donors, you’ll find this to be a fairly small group – very doable in terms of your time.

For example, one of my clients just sent a 623 piece mailing to their 2+ time givers in the past 12 months, focused on converting them to give monthly.

This organization also offers the monthly option in their spring and fall appeal on the reply form and they’ve not seen any negative impact of doing that.

3. Should we include an additional insert in our mailing package that asks donors to check the box to donate monthly?

I like inserts (also called buck slips) a lot, because you can explain the program quickly. You can also include a testimonial from another monthly donor. And these inserts are very affordable.

You can simply ask the donor to check the box on the reply form in the mailing.

In my experience, I prefer a special reply form right below the information about the program. You can create it to be a self-contained piece that you can drop into outgoing mail.

You can even use this special piece at different events – or as a form to download off your site. It’s great, because it has everything the donor needs to fill out and sign.

Of course no matter what, you’ll always want to make sure you include your web site and special url to link to, just for those donors who are more comfortable to go to your site right away, rather than sending something back to you.

4. What if we don’t run dedicated campaigns to gain monthly donors – but we always highlight the option to give monthly in all our appeals?

Well, I think the key is, how are these options working for you?

If you’re able to generate a few monthly donors every time you talk about it, ‘good on you’ as they say in Australia.

But if you’re seeing that this doesn’t really generate much, you may need to step up your activities some more.

The more you ask, the more monthly donors you’ll generate.

Monthly giving is a not a once and done deal.

You will grow if you ask and ask some more.

Those organizations that have seen the power of monthly giving and are growing are always asking.

In their appeals, in their emails, in their newsletters or bulletins.

So, what you’re doing is a tremendous start and it may be all you can handle right now with your resources.

It may be what  feels comfortable for your number of donors and email names. And some organizations are very successful with these approaches.

But what if you could do just one more thing? For example:

  1. Rather than a one-time donation ask in an email, make it a monthly giving only and see what happens? How often could you do this a year?
  2. What if you were able to get one or a few of your current monthly donors to give you a testimonial and use that on your web site and in an email?
  3. What if you created a buck slip and dropped that into everything you send out?

Bottom Line: It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to step up your game and secure many more monthly donors!

Leave a comment and share your own experience: