Grow Your Monthly Giving Program: Part 2

Last month, we explored the importance of a strong monthly giving program for your non-profit organization. We compared it to planting seeds. Just like any crop, it will not grow until it is planted, and it will not be planted unless you get started.

For purposes of review, we defined monthly giving this way: “A program that cultivates an ongoing, committed giving relationship between a donor and your organization. Monthly donors are those donors in your database who have agreed to support your organization with a determined amount each month.” They are also called systematic donors or “sustaining” gifts.

Last month we focused on “WHY.” This month, we will focus on “HOW.” What are some best practices you can implement in establishing a monthly giving program? What are the critical steps for success?

Seek buy-in from leadership.
To succeed, we must first believe we can. Make sure your CEO or Board understands the ins and outs. Set a budget for your giving program. Like any fundraising strategy, it will take money to raise money. Remember, you are “planting.” The harvest will come later. Monthly giving is all about long-term dollars.

Target who you hope to reach.
Your monthly donor program will not appeal to all your donors. Take your major donors off the list. They should continue to receive personal cultivation but are unlikely to donate on a monthly timeline. Donors who are on a fixed income are excellent prospects, as are millennials who are showing a lot of interest in systematic giving.

Give your program a name.
People like to belong to something. Donors are no different. Assign your giving program a name: Champion’s Club, Circle of Friends, Legacy Society, Faith Partners, or some other catchy name that ties in with your brand or mission. Pat Robertson’s “700 Club” started in 1960 and still airs on cable TV. Here is what you may not know. In 1962, the station suffered financially and almost closed. To keep the station on the air, they set a goal of signing up 700 members each contributing $10 a month, which was enough to support their operating budget. Robertson referred to these “members” as the “700 Club” and the name stuck. (By the way, the $10 gift from 1962 would equal close to $80 in today’s economy.)

Send a welcome packet.
When a donor signs on to give monthly, acknowledge it. Say thank you and “welcome to the club.” An automated response is best, if not, a thank you post card works great. Mail a welcome packet especially designed for them. Use plenty of pictures. Make it warm and fuzzy. If there is a small gift or premium involved, send it to them in the first month after they join.

Include in regular appeals.
When you send out your regular appeals, make mention of your monthly giving program. Stress the ease and convenience of giving in this manner. Show the benefits, to both them and your organization. Once a year, you may even consider a phone campaign to recruit and sign-up monthly donors.

Show what the monthly gift provides!
Donors want to know their giving is making a difference. What does their $50 gift accomplish each moth? What does their $100 gift “buy” for the organization. A good example is a missions organization that distributes solar powered audio bibles to unreached people groups. As a Champion Club member, the $50 will purchase and distribute one Bible each month. Donors know that their gifts are making a difference.

Now is the time to grow, enhance, or start your monthly giving program. There are plenty of resources available help you. The Timothy Group can help guide you with some practical steps to design an effective program.

About the Author: Kent Vanderwood, Vice President – Kent offers clients over 35 years of non-profit experience including teaching, administrative, consulting, and directorships. Through his work as Development Director for The Potter’s House, Gospel Communications International, and Mel Trotter Ministries, Kent brings a wealth of experience in fundraising and development. He currently serves as a board member for the West Michigan chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). His passion for seeing Christian stewardship principles applied in a systematic way helps the non-profit organization or ministry be successful in fulfilling its mission.

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