Can a “Monthly Giving Month” turbocharge your sustainer efforts?

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January 7th, 2019

Every charitable organization wants more monthly sustainers. They provide a great source of constant funding; become marvelous planned giving and mid-level donor prospects; and have the highest retention rates of all supporters.

One of the strategies being enacted by more and more nonprofits is a monthly-giving month, when virtually all development resources become focused on one objective: acquiring more sustainers.

The logic behind it is simple—defining one month to implement full-scale efforts allows leadership to budget funding to support additional efforts, and gives everyone an opportunity to develop more ways to support these special efforts.

Here’s how to start:

  1. Select a month without an existing campaign.
    Certainly, December is not the time to focus efforts on generating monthly support since so many campaigns are designed to generate year-end gifts. However, there may be other times of the year where your organization already has successful efforts that should not be replaced. Universities have homecoming and alumni campaigns, advocacy organizations center on election dates, or chapter-based nonprofits might have certain “off-limits” periods when the local chapter run their own events. One tactic is to select a month that regularly occurs after your organization has generated a large number of new supporters, one of the best audiences to convert to monthly sustaining gifts. For many charities, January and February might be candidates since year-end giving has just been completed, or the middle of the summer might provide an opportunity when other single-gift campaigns have lower traction.
  2. Website takeover
    Perhaps the best way to promote monthly sustaining gifts is through a lightbox on your website. Every visitor will be presented with the offer to raise awareness of the campaign at every entry point to the site. Similarly, the main landing page should feature the offer with the highlight of a special premium for signup, and the donation form should lead with the sustaining gift offer.
  3. Telemarketing
    Perhaps the strongest conversion tool is telemarketing directly to the interested party. Advocacy organizations can use their petition signers as a new source for telemarketing, and long-term supporters should also be modeled for a full-scale effort. Messaging from the telemarketers can focus on a specific offer (match, premium gift, specific campaign) along with the one-month-only promise to sway supporters to convert.

The logic behind it is simple—defining one month to implement full-scale efforts allows leadership to budget funding to support additional efforts.

  1. Mass Text to Sustainer
    There are a number of applications that allow nonprofits to use massive text messaging directly to supporters to encourage conversion. Unlike email, virtually 100% of text messages are immediately opened. Although each individual text message must be sent from an individual, the apps use browser-based software with a large variety of “canned” replies and outbound scripts, enabling a volunteer or contractor to contact hundreds of individuals per hour. Of course, the link to the sustainer sign-up page must be mobile-friendly (yours already is, correct?).
  2. Direct Mail
    During the months leading up to monthly-sustainer month, make sure your direct mail promotes the offer, too. Use your reply device backers, make sure inserts are included in every acknowledgement, highlight the opportunity to convert on the gift ask, and use a direct mail promotion for high-potential current donors who cannot be telemarketed due to lack of phone append or “no telemarketing” request.
  3. Social Media Posts
    Have a number of celebrities or current sustainers say why they make regular monthly gifts and promote through social media. Highlight a special premium for monthly-giving month. Have a drawing with a prize for the 100th or perhaps the 500th new sustainer and promote the offer. Use a countdown clock to get to your goal. Have your staff members participate with promotional items so they can post too!
  4. Coordinate efforts with Face-to-Face Campaigns
    If you have F2F partners, make sure that they are in the field at the same time you are running your monthly-giving month. Many individuals who are uncertain to give directly to the F2F representative will go directly to your website, so be sure that the offers are the same in all channels.

Best of all, make sure that leadership understands the long-term impact of these efforts by reporting back the number of new sustainers and the projected one-to-three year value of their gifts. You’ll be surprised at how quickly that number adds up!

By Renee Baiocco | Account Director

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