Experienced annual fund managers say that when you convince donors to give using monthly credit card or bank drafts, their annual renewals are higher. Membership organizations agree with that. Personally, I’ve had one charitable bank draft going for 30 years…it takes initiative to cancel it, and you feel guilty if you do!
There are many people who can afford $10 per month but can’t afford a $100 check right now. Gaining them as sustaining donors at an affordable monthly rate may result in a larger gift or bequest years down the road.
Here’s how you can change your response card to boost monthly giving participation.
- Make it prominent. Most monthly giving language is an option buried in all the other text on a reply card.Smith College features monthly giving on their response form. Monthly giving is a big initiative for Smith College this year, especially for new, younger donors, and it is working well according to Kim Philbrook, their annual fund coordinator.Of course, being a college, they have a phone-a-thon follow up with the prospects, so the results are influenced by the phone-a-thon. They typically ask for only $2 to $3 per month, very affordable for a recent graduate. Their goal is to develop a life time giver, even if it starts at a very small amount.Note that the credit card draft continues until the credit card expires. They then call the donor to get a new expiration date, so organizing that (or sending out a renewal reminder in the expiration month) is an essential part of the plan to keep monthly giving on track.
- Offer a bank draft option. This example from the YMCA shows you how to offer both a credit card and a bank draft option.
If you are set up for bank drafts the fee per transaction can be less than a credit card charge, and if you leave it open ended, the bank draft lasts nearly forever.
If you are not set up for bank drafts, you can still encourage an automatic bank payment as shown in this Star Island example:
- Segment. Pick segments that will benefit from the opportunity to give monthly.
- Smith solicits recent graduates for monthly giving.
- Star Island solicits lapsed donors whose previous annual giving was under $250.
- Send a special monthly sustaining solicitation letter.Some experts (like Mal Warwick) say that to really get it going you need to select a segment of loyal but low-dollar-amount donors and send them a specific, additional letter and reply form inviting them to join a monthly sustaining club. Be sure to give reasons why it is good for them and good for the cause.
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