Planning a Successful Monthly Giving Program (Part 2 of 6)

Planning a Successful Monthly Giving Program

This is part 2 in a 6-part series on monthly giving programs for nonprofits.

Read Part 1 – Benefits of Monthly Giving Programs

As you may have read in our previous post in this series, recurring monthly giving programs offer many benefits to nonprofits – so much so that its an endeavor nearly every nonprofit should pursue. Of course, anything worth doing is worth doing right. So, before you start a monthly giving program, take some time (but not a lifetime) to put things in place. Below are seven steps for developing a well-crafted monthly giving program.

1. Get Buy-in from Staff and Board

In order to be successful, you must first get key leadership on-board. The executive director, board president, and development staff (if any) need to be ready to be primary advocates for your program. The more early supporters you have within your organization, the more leverage you will have when asking others from outside the organization to join in.

Keep in mind; this is a marathon not a race. Leaders have to be committed to supporting the program themselves and they will have to understand it may take time to see results. The efforts you put in today, may take months or even years to turn into eye-popping results.

2. Build a Case for Support

When determining how to promote your monthly giving program, select an ongoing and critical need that donors find compelling.  Ideally donors will have the option of giving unrestricted gifts or to the fund of their choice – all of which is possible through MoonClerk. Regardless of whether monthly gifts are unrestricted or used to fund a certain program – be sure the experience is meaningful for your donors.

The case for support is what giving is all about.  It is the single most crucial element to a monthly giving program. Be clear about what your organization will be able to accomplish with these sustaining gifts.  All of your efforts will stem from your case for support. Have a clear, consistent message that you will use every time you promote monthly giving.  Articulate your need and impact in a short space and be able to express this message in a short sentence, a paragraph and/or a full-page depending on the venue and audience.  Show your donors exactly what your nonprofit can provide with $20/month, $50/month, $100/month, etc.– whichever suggested monthly giving amounts you have.

A great example of an organization that is doing just that is GOAT (Great Outdoor Adventure Trips), a MoonClerk nonprofit customer. They’ve created a monthly giving program called, The Tribe. They’ve listed exactly how the money will be used and what the different suggested giving levels can provide.

3. Name the Program

Having an appealing name that represents both the focus of the giving and the method of giving adds a feeling of “specialness” and partnership. Below are some examples of well named monthly giving programs. An appealing name helps get donor’s attention and makes it easy to talk about, but don’t get hung up on the name. It is more important to start the program than to spend months debating the “perfect” name. Try to find a short phrase (2-5 words) that captures the funding purpose and the nature of sustaining gifts.

As you can see from the above example with GOAT, they’ve chosen the name, The Tribe. As they explain on their website, “Groups of goats are referred to as “tribes” or “trips”. We consider everyone who gives consistently to GOAT a member of our tribe. In a tribe there are many jobs and many people will carry different loads – but we’re all working together towards one goal.”

4. Policies & Procedures

Once you have established the concept of your monthly giving program, it is necessary to establish the policies and procedures the organization will follow. Establish a way of importing and tracking donor information and measuring the success of the program. It is also important to establish procedures that outline who, what and when action will occur if any problems arise. MoonClerk allows nonprofits to set-up maintenance messages that are sent automatically. Sample maintenance messages include notices that a credit card expiration date is approaching or a recurring payment failed to go through. These features help minimize the workload of nonprofit staff members.

5. Develop a Benefits Package

What will you offer to donors to make them feel special? Clearly state the benefits of joining the monthly giving program on your website and in all communications. Benefits can be tailored to the size of your nonprofit and the resources available. Benefits do not need to be elaborate to be appreciated. Your donor is giving because they care about your mission, not because they can’t live without that tote bag. The goal is to express your gratitude and make donors feel appreciated.

Within 48 hours of making a donation, new sustaining donors should receive a welcome kit that acknowledges their commitment, expresses your gratitude, and makes them feel like a special partner.  Welcome kits can be as simple as a thank-you letter with a testimonial or can include a thank-you gift such as a bumper sticker or keychain acknowledging their status as a monthly donor.  Make it special. A welcome letter/kit that is mailed and hand-signed is more personal than a standardized email.

Potential Benefits Include:

–       Update/Action alerts

–       Uninterrupted delivery of magazine or newsletter

–       Tax statement each January

–       Special bumper sticker or keychain

–       Updates from a senior leader in person or by phone

–       Recognition in newsletters, website, events, etc…

–       Thank you card from a participant/client

–       Special targeted mailings

–       A private thank-you event

–       A special video highlighting annual accomplishments

–       Special tours for Monthly Donors

6. Set-up the Back-end

When steps 1-5 are in place it’ss time to ensure you’re ready to start accepting recurring gifts. If you don’t already have a MoonClerk account, this is the time to sign-up. You can either set-up a new payment form specifically for your monthly giving program or edit an existing form. MoonClerk offers several options for customizing your page. You can add a unique logo, fonts, and color scheme to the monthly giving payment form. Additionally, you can choose which information you want to ask donors to provide and the payment options (frequency, duration, etc.) they can choose from. It’s easy to add your donation form directly to your Giving/Donation webpage or link to a separate page on your website to gain additional tracking information and make security features more prominent.

7. Build a Landing Page

Once the monthly giving program is developed, you need to be ready to advertise your program. A landing page is the cover that your book (program) will be judged by. The landing page should include the name of your monthly giving program, your case for support, testimonials, a list of benefits, and clear directions telling donors how to cancel or change their gift.

Adding a button to your homepage in addition to your Giving/Donation webpage provides additional visibility for anyone visiting your website. Including a donation button on social media sites and as part of your email signature is another way to give added exposure to the monthly giving program. Make monthly giving the way to give, by making giving easy and visible to all your supporters. The more they see the option, the more likely they are to participate.

Final Thoughts

Before officially launching the new monthly giving program, get feedback from board members and key donors. Get early supporters to sign-up first, and provide feedback on landing pages, the process and the overall feel of the program. Make additions and revisions as needed. Donors can be easily turned off by a system that is cumbersome or incorrect and once lost it is very difficult to win them back. Additionally, you want word-of-mouth to work for you, not against you. Be sure donors have a great experience and they will become your best supporters.

Our future posts in this series will focus on:

  • Launching a Monthly Giving Program
  • Keeping Monthly Donors Engaged
  • Recruiting and Converting New Monthly Donors
  • Additional Monthly Giving Program Resources

Learn more about how MoonClerk helps nonprofits accept recurring and one-time donations online.

Photo by Flickr User johnhanna