For many of us, this final week of 2015 is about reflection: what were my biggest accomplishments? Where did I fall short? How can I be better in the year ahead?
Whether applied to our professional or personal lives, contemplating these questions allows us to more effectively allot our time, effort, and resources to fulfilling those New Year’s resolutions (note: at least in this author’s case, a new yoga mat is also required.)
During a recent “fireside chat” on nonprofit trends to watch in 2016, we asked Michelle Shefter, Product Director and in-house giving guru, for tips on making smart investments in sustaining programs.
Check out a clip of our conversation below and read on for some of her advice. (Want full access? You can watch the entire video here - it's free.)
New year, new ask
One of the simplest ways to add donors to your monthly giving list is to put your best sustaining foot forward.
This year, make the sustaining ask your only ask by transforming your donation form so that a monthly gift is the easiest choice.
Michelle suggests creating a donation form where lower, more palatable recurring amounts appear by default rather than a larger, one-time gift.
Why does this work? Research shows that requiring that added step (to change the recurring donation to a one-time gift), even if it's as simple as unchecking a box, can considerably increase your chances of converting a monthly donor.
Share the donor love all year long
There’s something special about sustaining donors - resolve to treat them that way in 2016!
Ditch the bad habit of only communicating with sustainers sparingly. Instead, tailor your outreach and updates to their monthly motivations by crafting special appeals and communications to sustaining program participants.
And don’t be afraid to upgrade! Even asking for just a few more dollars once or twice a year can seriously boost your revenue, while also helping to recommit and re-energize sustainers. (Check out Michelle's post from March on planning an upgrade email campaign.)
Out with the old, in with the new (expiration date)
One of the main causes of monthly donor attrition can start impacting your fundraising revenue at the stroke of midnight: outdated credit card information.
Whether it’s past its expiration date or been rendered obsolete by advanced chip technology, a credit card you can’t process can really hurt your 2016 fundraising goals.
Depending on the size of your program, Michelle recommends calling or emailing your donors about their payment record and offering a variety of options for donors to get the updated information to you.
Reminder: brand your outreach appropriately so you’re not confused with a scam!
And while we love a great email series, you can also fight credit card churn through automatic update programs provided by card issuers. Do some research and pick a path that works best for your nonprofit.
Keep track of your investments
What’s a goal without a way to measure it? The best way to effectively fight sustainer attrition in 2016 is to create meaningful metrics that measure the impact of your investments.
Some good examples include:
How many sustainers have increased their gift? How many decreased?
How many more sustaining donors did our new form add?
How many sustaining gifts stopped processing and why?
Michelle suggests monitoring metrics like these on a monthly basis to maintain a clear picture of what’s working and what isn’t, that way you can make adjustments as needed and stay flexible as the year goes on (no yoga mat required!)
Want more 2016 trends? Check out the full video, which features insights on what’s coming in design and social advocacy, how nonprofits will use data in the coming year, and creating community in your nonprofit marketing.