Acquire More Monthly Donors

By Megan England, Senior Director, Client Success, RKD Group

We’ve all been through two years of uncertainty, anxiety and stress. Wouldn’t it be nice to have something that’s guaranteed, predictable and worry-free?

That’s exactly what monthly donors deliver—a reliable revenue stream for nonprofit organizations. Thus, it comes as little surprise that every organization wants more of these donors.

However, acquiring monthly sustainers often brings more questions than answers:

  • Which channels work best?
  • How often should we present them with a monthly ask?
  • Should we take them out of our regular communication stream?

This list goes on and on.

So, I recently teamed up with a few of my colleagues at RKD Group to create a taskforce that analyzed our clients’ data and defined the top strategies and tactics that make a successful monthly donor program.

Here’s what we found:

Diving into the data

Going into this project, our team knew that digital channels were the primary driver for monthly gifts. And our analysis confirmed that 85% of monthly gifts came online.

But we had other questions, and we formed two main hypotheses based off our client experience and industry trends. These included:

  1. If we make it easy for donors to sign up for a sustaining gift, organic growth will increase through converting first-time and second-time donors.
  2. Donor loyalty is no longer the driving force for converting a donor to a sustaining relationship through digital channels.

To determine whether our hypotheses were accurate, we examined several of our clients’ donor data. This revealed two key findings:

  1. 60-70% of digitally acquired sustainers who come on file do so at the point of first gift.
  2. Half of the remaining 30-40% of digitally acquired sustainers convert at the point of second gift.

These data points not only confirmed our hypotheses, but they also gave us the insight we needed to optimize our clients’ programs for sustaining gifts.

An always-on, digital-first approach

Why digital-first? Let’s face it, with Netflix and the thousands of other monthly subscription services out there, donors have gotten used to making monthly recurring payments online.

Between this and the data, we know that the secret to acquiring sustainers successfully should be to approach it with an always-on, digital-first mentality. We’ve identified a few key optimizations that will help drive organic growth in sustainer programs.

Donation forms: Always include the option for monthly giving! As we often like to say, don’t make assumptions for your donors. You never know who is willing to give monthly.

Paid media: Build an evergreen monthly donation campaign that runs throughout the year outside of year end.

Website: If you have a donate button at the top of your website (as you should), try including a monthly giving link right next to it. This will keep monthly giving top of mind.

Email: We saw a strong correlation between second gifts and monthly sustainer acquisition. Thus, we recommend adding a monthly ask into the second cadence of your email welcome series.

Monthly sustainers are essential to the growth of direct-response fundraising programs. By maintaining an always-on approach, nonprofits will see more and more sustainers come onto their files.