Planning Your Monthly Giving Strategy For The Year: A Step-By-Step Guide

Guest Expert - Erica Waasdorp • Dec 16, 2019

If you haven’t started focusing on monthly and sustainer giving yet, think again. At the start of the new year, it’s a good time to take a fresh look at this tremendously sustainable way for donors to make a difference to your organization in ways that are most comfortable for their budget. 

When I ask monthly donors the question, why they like giving that way, most indicate they like to support the organization. They care about the mission. They want to help and giving monthly is just an easier way for them to do so.  

Why you should take a closer look at monthly giving 

One of the biggest reasons why monthly giving has become so popular over the past few years is because: 

  1.  Monthly Donors will stay with you much longer than one-time givers, so your donor retention rates will improve 
  2.  Monthly Donors will give you more money so you’re upgrading their giving levels. 
  3.  Monthly Donors will be more likely to leave you in their will. Small gifts now, big gifts later. 

PREPARE for a bigger jump into monthly giving 

Start by evaluating your current donation pages and your online payment process. How easy is it to handle monthly gifts? 

Do you have monthly giving (or a variation of that message, for example ‘Make this a recurring gift’ or a pull down with ‘monthly’ as an option) on your one-time giving page? 

Do you have a special monthly donor page in place? If not, I recommend you create one so you can start linking to it. It will help you with your messaging and promotion later on. 

Make sure that you have your thank you emails all ready to go and linked to the pages above. 

Test the process. Make a monthly gift and make sure that everything works and that the payment gets charged correctly. 

Next, map out your plan for the year. 

The key to remember when it comes to monthly giving is that it’s NOT a one-shot deal. Its not a one ask and then never again. If you’re serious about growing your program, you should really focus on providing as many opportunities to give monthly as possible. The more you ask, the more monthly donors you’ll generate. 

The plan to grow depends on how many monthly donors you already have, so start there. Here are some questions to look at and evaluate as they will feed your plan.  What do you know about them? How did they come to you? 

I recommend downloading this monthly donor calculator. Plug in your current number of donors and your current number of monthly donors and look at the percentage. Then look at the annual revenue and make your projections. 

Keep your goals realistic. If you have 10 monthly donors, can you double it? If you’re raising $25,000 a year now, can you double it, how many more monthly donors will you need? 

Then look at your overall nonprofit fundraising plan. If you don’t have one, definitely create one. You know what they say: if you fail to plan, you’ll plan to fail!! – If you don’t have one, email me to get a fundraising plan template that will literally give you a top line overview of all your fundraising activities. 

What does your plan look like?   

  •  How many direct mail appeals are you sending? 
  •  How many emails and e-news updates are you sending? 
  •  Are you sending out thank you letters? Do they include a soft ask for an extra gift?
  •  Do you have a welcome email series to new donors who give online and people who sign up for your email newsletter?

Then look at some test opportunities. Where can you fit in a monthly donor ask? You can really start really small and grow from there.  

Low hanging fruit options to generate more monthly donors 

  • Join your own program. 
  • Send an internal email to staff, board, and volunteers to invite them to start giving monthly.
  • Add a monthly giving option in the p.s. of every email you send. 
  •  Add a monthly giving option on every appeal reply form and reply envelope. 
  •  Add a monthly giving option in the p.s. of every thank you email you send to gifts or other actions a donor or constituent takes. 
  •  Add a monthly giving message in every e-news you send. 
  •  Test two different buttons in every email and see what happens. 
  •  Test a pop-up to give monthly when the donor clicks to make a one-time gift. 
  •  Link to your monthly donor page directly in all of the above. 

Then, when you get your feet wet with the above, check out some other successful approaches. For example, get your board or a big donor engaged with supporting a sustainable program with a small match. Simplified messaging is something like this: We need just 25 new monthly donors to get started by deadline x and a generous donor will give us an extra $5,000. 

If you have space in your communications plan, consider a small targeted mailing to invite donors to give monthly. Target those who make smaller gifts on a regular basis. Target those who are already giving by credit card and see what happens. 

Annualize your monthly donor results 

The opportunities are really endless and they cost virtually nothing or very little. Make sure that you plan the above activities and add them into your overall fundraising/communication plan. 

Evaluate your monthly donor program and activities regularly and if you do, make sure you use an annualized amount. So if you have 25 monthly donors giving you $10 a month, that’s 25 donors giving you $120 a year, or $3,000. 

Evaluate regularly but don’t get discouraged too soon. It’s literally a matter of chipping away at it as much as you can. Those organizations that are most successful with generating monthly donors truly believe in it, they are committed at growing it and guess what, that’s exactly what they’re doing! 

About the author:  

Erica Waasdorp, Philanthropyholic, President of A Direct Solution, lives and breathes direct response and fundraising on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. 

Erica published Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant, the Monthly Donor Road Map and many other resources on Monthly Giving.  She blogs, presents in person and via webinars and she helps her clients with appeals, direct mail and monthly giving. 

Erica Waasdorp is a Master Trainer for the Association of Fundraising Professionals and she was the US Ambassador for the International Fundraising Congress (IFC) and planned numerous conferences. 

Erica loves traveling with her husband, playing golf (she’s a ‘straight shooter and great at ‘chipping’), dancing, reading, barre classes and more.