Monthly giving programs are one of the holy grails of fundraising. Imagine having a program in place where donors allow you to charge a set amount directly from their credit cards each month, and feel good about doing so. Wouldn’t a strategy like that help not only your bottom line and financial stability, but your mission and programs as well?
Here are the 7 steps you need to take in order to launch a strong monthly giving program at your non-profit:
Before You Begin
Before you actually launch your effort, you’ll need to sketch out your monthly giving program – you’ll need a case for support (why should people give to your organization on a monthly basis?), program branding (do your monthly givers become part of a special group or club? Does your monthly giving program have a name and/or logo?), giving levels (how much will you ask for?) and donor benefits (what will monthly donors get in return / recognition?). Once these items are in place, you are ready to begin…
1. Create a Monthly Giving Launch Letter / Appeal
The first step of your monthly giving launch is to create a strong monthly giving appeal letter. You’ll be sending out a traditional snail-mail / direct mail letter to your current donors to ask them to sign-up for your monthly giving program.
2. Develop a Web Page for Monthly Giving
The second step of your launch is to develop a web page that explains your monthly giving case for support, includes a call to action, and allows people to click on a link to sign-up for recurring giving.
You want to design and publish this webpage after you write your monthly giving appeal letter but before you put it in the mail. This is because you want the web page to match the look, feel, tone, and language of your letter, but you also want people who receive the letter and want to find more information on your website to have somewhere to go to get that information.
3. Drop Your Monthly Giving Launch Letter
Once your web page is up and functional (be sure to test those payment buttons!) you’re ready to drop your appeal letter in the mail. Remember the basic rule of thumb for program launch letters such as this one: they are much more effective in the Spring and Fall than they are in the Summer or near the Christmas / Hanukah / New Year’s holiday season.
4. Send Out a Monthly Giving Launch E-Mail
Several days after your letter goes into the mail, send out an e-mail solicitation to your entire e-mail list asking them to sign-up for the monthly giving program and giving them links to click on to sign-up right away. As with your monthly giving web page, your e-mail appeal should match the language and look of the direct mail letter which you sent out… this way, your donors will be getting a consistent message and ask across all mediums.
5. Follow Up with Phone Calls
Ok, this is where it gets tricky and a little controversial. In my experience, organizations that follow-up their direct mail and e-mail solicitations with phone calls asking donors to become monthly givers are far more successful than those organizations that don’t use phone calls as part of the mix. These calls can be done in house or through a reputable telemarketing firm. Not every consultant would agree with me about adding phone calls to the mix, so your mileage may vary.
I know not every non-profit has the manpower or financial resources to call through their donor file as a follow-up to the direct mail and e-mail campaigns. That’s ok. If you can’t make the calls, skip this step, and do all of the others. You will still be successful.
That being said, if you have limited resources and are willing to give phone calls a shot, have your top development folks call through your top donors… maybe the top 5-10% of your annual givers… to ask them to join the monthly giving program.
The call script can be as simple as, “Hi Mary, I just wanted to make sure you got my letter about our new Champions for the City monthly giving program. Did you get the letter? Great! This new program will allow us to offer hot meals and clean beds to 50% more of our city’s homeless this year. Would you be willing to sign-up with a monthly pledge?”
6. Welcome New Monthly Donors
Remember – your monthly giving program is important not only because of the financial benefits it provides your organization, but also because it allows your non-profit to build stronger relationships with your donors. Get this new relationship off to the right start by sending your new monthly givers a welcome letter highlighting how important they are and reminding them of the benefits they receive as part of their membership in the program.
7. Add Monthly Giving as an Option
Finally, after you complete the launch of your monthly giving program, add monthly giving as an option to all of your fundraising materials. Add an option on your online giving forms for monthly giving, include monthly giving language on your donor envelopes, and include information about monthly giving in your e-mail and snail mail newsletters.
Photo Credit: Ernest Chiang