How to Spur Donors to Give Monthly

How can you find the pot of gold inside your donor database?gold coins

You know where I think your pot of gold is?

It may not be in sophisticated analytics (but I do like them!).

It may not be in wealth management screening (which I also heartily endorse).

Where do I think the pot of gold is?

It’s when you can convert your good old regular annual fund donors into monthly donors.


When a donor converts to monthly giving, they usually give 3 times more!

Converting donors from annual to monthly increases their overall giving significantly.

They will usually give about 3 times more than they were before, says Harvey McKinnon, my favorite monthly giving guru. hidden gold book cover

Definitely check out his book: “Hidden Gold, How monthly giving will build donor loyalty, boost your organization’s income and increase financial stability.”

OK, just imagine with me here:

What would happen if you could get THREE TIMES more from your current donors?

You’d have new financial stability.

You’d have a lot more income!

Think of the people you could help. The water you could clean. The kids you could educate.

Monthly giving is such a lucrative strategy.

I like it because you don’t have to look for NEW donors.

Instead you are raising more from the donors you have right now.

I hosted an online chat on monthly giving with the Chronicle of Philanthropy this week. You can read the transcript right here.  Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 10.13.21 AM

BTW, their online chats with experts and fundraisers every Tuesday are usually really helpful!

For our session, we had a great group of fundraisers from around the world joining us to discuss “How to Spur Donors to Give Monthly.”

Here are some basic tips I shared with my group:

Be committed like this turtle.

Be committed like this turtle.

Tips for a Successful Monthly Giving Program

1. Get your organization’s commitment. Understand that this is a long term project. Your monthly giving program will build up over time. Don’t give up!

2. Be prepared to invest time and resources. Put one person in charge and let them OWN the program. Report on your progress often.

3. Get a seamless back end system in place. How will you handle expired cards, denied charges, credit card payments and electronic funds transfer?

4. Identify your most likely monthly giving prospects: your most loyal donors and those who’ve given 3 or more consecutive years.
5. Use different channels to promote your program– mail, phone, online, your home page volunteers, newsletters, etc.

6. Give a catchy name to your Monthly Giving program and give it LOTS of visibility: “ Dream Makers” (Boston Children’s Hospital), “Field Partners” Doctors Without Borders.

7. Show donors how their monthly gift buys something specific. Or funds a specific need.

8. Create special branded communications for your monthly donors. And find special ways to thank them.

Here are some of the questions people asked me:

What is the best way to successfully retain monthly donors?

6431829_sMost people find that their monthly donors are a very solid group – and that it’s the credit card bugaboo that ends so many pledges.

I think monthly donors will renew when they are thanked profusely and warmly and treated like family.

All the ways I suggest that you thank them (see below) will keep them giving and giving.

I really like the idea of giving them an inside look at your work in the world, your challenges, and your vision.

They would not be giving monthly if they weren’t really committed to the cause!

How often should you ask donors to become monthly donors?

it should be part of ALL your appeals.

So that it gets impressed on people’s brains that there is a fabulous monthly giving program.

I’d ask several times a year if you are appealing several times.

I particularly like a special appeal JUST for monthly giving. That sets it apart and gives it depth.

I’m a real rookie at this. What are the first two steps to take when starting a monthly donor appeal?

You need a good back end.

You need someone who will followup failed charges etc.

And on the marketing side you need a catchy brand name – and build it into all your pledge cards.

AND get everybody on board with this at your org.

Make it a big deal that everybody talks about.

I like the strategy of having one person OWN the program too.

So it’s not an afterthought. So it’s not something you sorta get around to doing – it’s a priority.

Is it important or necessary to give gifts for donating?

11098070_sI am not wild about “gifts” in return for donating.

BUT I am wild about making those donors feel special.

I like to see monthly donors get some special perks.

Maybe a perk is a special tour for them all a couple of times a year.

Maybe you can give them a special phone number to call if they have questions.

I am part of one org that has a “monthly phone chat” with our monthly donors. I really like that.

I personally am a monthly donor to almost 10 charities.

And I love perks and I love special communiciations that acknowledge that I am actually a monthly donor.

It’s weird to be a monthly donor to an organization but they don’t acknowledge it.

Read more on the transcript from our chat earlier this week.

Here are some of the other questions that I answered. You can read all my answers in the transcript.

What organizations in your opinion do the best job at promoting monthly giving? Who can we look to for successful models?

At what point do you ask for increases to those donors who give monthly?

In your experience, does monthly giving appeal more to older or younger donors?

Have you had any pushback on monthly giving programs with also capital campaigns?

What would be an ideal “Welcome Package”?

About how much do merchant charges cost?

What do you recommend about how to handle expired cards?

Understand that telemarketing is the best medium for inviting constituents into a monthly giving program, but if your constituent base is not phone responsive, what is a typical response rate for using your direct mail to offer constituents a monthly giving option?

What about people who give time or give in-kind donations? Should they be approached or included in the monthly giving club?

What’s the best way to market your monthly giving program if your org does advocacy and has trouble tying a monthly gift to an equivalency?

Let’s say someone is consistently giving $500 each year for the last several years to your annual fund. What should your “ask” to them look like for the monthly giving program? What should you ask for (amount wise), if monthly donors usually give more?

Back to the monthly chat call for monthly donors, what kind of things are discussed, who makes the call, and how long does it typically run?

You can read all my answers in the transcript.


7402156_sDon’t waste any time setting up and promoting YOUR monthly giving program.

Don’t leave good money on the table from your most loyal donors!

Leave me a comment and tell me what you think!