Tithing. Allowance. Netflix. All examples of regular payments we make that are often done on a monthly basis. We give to churches, our children and pay bills monthly so it only makes sense that we would do our philanthropy in the same way.
And while the concept of monthly giving has been prevalent in fundraising through things like child sponsorship programs, giving clubs and memberships for quite some time, they haven’t evolved to catch up with generosity and giving today.
What Monthly Giving Programs Are All About
These programs aren’t just about having donors choose to make regular ‘payments’ but about generosity. They’re about being a part of something special. About becoming a partner with your organization to make an impact. These donors get communicated to in special ways throughout the year and are a key segment in your donor database. Programs like charity: water’s Pipeline, Watsi’s Universal Fund and Pencils of Promise’s Passport are all examples of these branded, focused and intentional monthly giving programs.
Why Monthly Giving is Good for Nonprofits
Increases Revenue Over Time and Lifetime Value
Lifetime value is the single most important metric for good annual giving programs. And monthly giving programs help boost lifetime value by spreading out payments in smaller increments leading to donors giving more in a year. This also keeps them around (donor retention) meaning they give for more years. More per year and more years. That’s a better lifetime value. And that’s a good thing.
Because these donors are giving regularly and in automated ways, you don’t have to keep spending money sending them direct mail appeals just to make sure they give again this year. This helps keep costs down and allows you to focus your time on other things – like making your donors happier.
I know how difficult cash flow can be. And so do nonprofits. Gifts can be irregular in terms of timing and amount making it hard to budget, plan and strategize. Having a stable, reliable income stream from monthly donors helps alleviate some of those concerns.
Why Monthly Giving is Good for Givers
Similar to why monthly giving is good for your cashflow, it’s also good for donors. They can budget their giving or know how much they give every month. This makes it easier to manage their giving without having to weigh the pros and cons of giving to every single ask that comes into their inbox or through the mail.
They Are Special
Monthly donors make up 10% to 30% of donor bases meaning they are in the minority. By definition, that makes them unique. But because of their regular giving, commitment to the cause and value to the charity, they should be treated in special ways. You should know more about them, especially if you have a good, relationally-focused nonprofit CRM. Things like birthday cards, Christmas wishes, and little gifts aren’t cheesy ploys solicit donations, but meaningful acts of gratitude and relationship-building. Your donors appreciate those things.
They Can Make A Bigger Impact
Not every monthly donor thinks about their monthly giving allowing for bigger impact, but their donations do. They add up, little by little every month, to larger sums at the end of their giving and the stability they help provide is invaluable. So through that, they are making a bigger impact through their regular giving than one-time donors do. And savvy, impact-focused donors realize this.
Monthly giving, through branded, special programs are good for you and good for your donors. If you don’t have one, or want to ‘beef up’ your current program, here are…
Three Key Questions Good Monthly Giving Programs Answer:
1. What are people giving to and what does it do?
Are they giving to support operations? If so, what does that mean in terms of their impact? Are they giving to a certain project? If so, what are the outcomes they can expect? And in either case, what are some real stories of change you can tell them.
2. How much are you asking them to give?
Keep in mind that you’re more interested in their support over a longer period of time. It’s best if you can have three options, plus an ‘other’, that a) is tied to what they are giving to and b) is unique. Tying it to what they are giving to each month ($35 provides food, clothing and shelter to a child) or for the year ($9/month provides cataract surgery for two people each year) helps with tangibility. And the unique levels help your program stand out from others.
3. How do you communicate with them and make them feel special throughout the year?
Will they get a monthly update via email? Is there a special event just for them? Will you send a Christmas card? Do they have their own newsletter? Just because their giving is on autopilot doesn’t mean your communications should be. Make sure you are stewarding, honoring and delighting these extra special givers throughout the year if not every month.