This blog is the final installment of a three-part blog series on nonprofit monthly giving programs. Read Part I: The 5 Must-Haves of a Monthly Recurring Revenue Campaign and Part II: How to Enhance the Monthly Giving Experience.
To grow your recurring donation program and minimize donor churn, you will need to actively manage your relationships with your existing and potential monthly donors.
The best way to manage these relationships is to dedicate a staffer to managing your monthly recurring revenue (MRR) program. One of this program manager’s primary roles will be to demonstrate your organization’s impact to donors through compelling, personal, and meaningful communications.
Communications Plan & Demonstrating Impact
1. Welcome Email
On the morning following a donor’s monthly gift, send a personalized thank you email. The focus of the email should be to welcome the new recurring donor to the program. Include a thank you, brief welcome, and description of the need surrounding their gift. Tell the donor how important their monthly gift is to the ability to meet that need. Make it personal by having donor relations staffer sign the email.
2. Welcome Call
Within three business days of a new recurring donation, the same person who emailed the donor should call the supporter. The focus of this call is to thank the donor for joining the recurring revenue program and collect high level data on what motivated them to give monthly. This data can be used to customize future communication with the donor to speak directly to their interests.
3. Thank You Note
A handwritten thank you card should be mailed within one week of the thank you call. The individual managing the recurring donations program (preferably the same person who called the recurring donor) should sign the cards. The note should be brief and thank the donor for fulfilling a need. If you have the budget to send out a small gift with this thank you note, such as a sticker or postcard, be sure to include it.
4. Welcome Series
Enroll your new monthly donors in an email welcome series. This is critical to demonstrating their impact and making them feel like valued members of your monthly giving community.
Increasing Gift Levels Over Time
Annually, the development team should call each recurring donor to update his or her interests and communication preferences in your database. The monthly donations manager should take this opportunity to share exciting news about what has been accomplished in the previous year and what’s planned for the upcoming year, with the intention of using this as a segue to ask the donor to increase their monthly gift.
Remember, all communication should present an immediate need and demonstrate how the recurring donor is helping to meet that need. The focus should be on the individual, using inclusive language such as, “you,” “we,” and “together.”
The basic rule for the ask is to make it a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) ask. Before calling, have a growth goal clearly defined. Here are some questions that are good to ask when setting your growth goal:
- What programmatic need do we want to meet through an increase in a donor’s gift?
- What would happen as a result of achieving the goal of increasing the monthly gift?
- What can we do to make this time-sensitive?
When thinking about a goal for an increase in support, it is critical that it be tied to the donor’s unique interest. To help create a sense of urgency, you can let them know of any matching challenges that would match 100 percent of increased donations for the year.
It’s critical that the caller record the donor’s response in the database. If the monthly donor expresses that they do not wish to be solicited for an increase in the future, you must honor that.
Identifying and Cultivating Leads
Building a successful recurring revenue program hinges on the relationship you have with individual donors. Though some supporters will give a recurring gift as their first donation to your nonprofit, it’s far more likely that monthly donors will come from existing one-time supporters.
You’ll want to develop a system for identifying donors who are most likely to convert to monthly giving. It’s important to assess each donor’s level of engagement with your organization and likelihood of making a monthly gift. The most effective and efficient way to do this is by implementing an internal scoring system that will quantify and prioritize leads.
As with any new and evolving program, it’s vital to set aside time to evaluate your progress, accomplishments, and donor feedback. If one tactic is working particularly well, keeping using it. If donors aren’t responding well to another tactic, stop using it. You have to be willing to adapt your MRR program to make it as successful as it can be.
Matt Scott is the Chief Development Officer at CauseMic, Classy’s first Certified Strategic Partner in the nation. With Matt’s leadership, CauseMic has raised more than $6 million for their nonprofit clients on the Classy platform. You can find him on Twitter at @Cause_Mic. For strategic help developing, launching, and managing your monthly recurring revenue program, visit CauseMic.com.