QUICK SHOT: Remember ME? 3 Tips to Effectively Cultivate your Monthly Donors
By Matt Rayburn, Account Strategist
For anyone who’s ever worked in nonprofit development, the most common experience is feeling like you never have enough time. Between trying to figure out how to get more gifts out of your donor base, cultivating your Major Donors and finding new donors, there are just too few hours in a day.
With all these important tasks, it can be too easy to ignore your most faithful and committed donors: your Monthly Donors.
The reality is that Monthly Donors should be amongst your most cultivated donors. They’re your most loyal and dedicated givers. They contribute consistently and faithfully to you every month… without being prompted! They believe strongly in you and your mission. Their high lifetime donor value and high retention rates make them the unsung heroes of your donor file.
So to ensure that your Monthly Donors don’t feel like Rodney Dangerfield, the famous comedian who quipped, “I don’t get no respect,” here are 3 ways to ensure they get the attention and appreciation they deserve:
1. Monthly Donors need more communication… not less. When donors sign up to be monthly donors, it’s tempting to take them out of the regular mail stream. However, most monthly donors sign up because they want to be more connected to you, not less. They’re giving because they believe passionately in what you are doing. It’s a mistake not to nurture that passion.
At a minimum, you want to make sure your Monthly Donors get your newsletters as well as a small number of additional campaigns throughout the year. I recommend sending them any Matching campaign you have, as well as your holiday campaigns (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter). The benefits of this go beyond just increased retention – if asked, the average monthly donor gives an additional 1-2 gifts per year.
2. Monthly Donors need appropriate communication… across all channels. Too often, a Monthly Donor gift is treated like any other gift. It may feel like overkill to send out a thank you letter every month to the same people, thanking them for giving the same amount.
But remember! These are your most steadfast and dedicated donors. They regularly need to know you value and appreciate them. Acknowledge their sustaining support. Let them know what their giving allows you to do. Make sure they get an appropriate and unique thank you letter for every single gift they make. And that includes your online donors – automatic thank you emails are a great timesaver, but over time, your Monthly Donors will sense you’re just going through the motions.
3. Monthly Donors need communication that makes them feel like they belong. Once again, these wonderful people are the committed few. Do NOT take that commitment for granted. Instead, nurture it with a robust giving club that’s more than just a name.
Invite them to your program graduations, your chapel services and other special events. Send them prayer requests and ask how your ministry can pray for them. Invite them to exclusive monthly donor gatherings or unique volunteer opportunities. In short, look for ways to get them excited about what you’re doing. The results won’t just be better for retention, but will energize this group of donors to become effective evangelists for your organization.
When you invest in your relationship with your Monthly Donors, they’ll return the love. Not only will they provide a long-term sustainable income source for you, but they’ll also be your biggest champions. So squeeze in some extra time and energy to make sure you’re cultivating them with a lot of communication, encouragement and appreciation.
Matt Rayburn, Account Strategist
For 20 years, Matt has assisted countless individuals to secure permanent housing through his work on both the agency and nonprofit side of addressing homelessness. Prior to joining BDI, he directed several nonprofits and spearheaded fundraising efforts to increase housing in the Los Angeles area, and he coordinated a highly-successful shelter network of faith communities in the San Gabriel Valley.
As an Account Strategist at BDI, Matt oversees his clients’ accounts with an unparalleled level of empathy and expertise, drawing from his many years working in nonprofit leadership and his Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management. He is uniquely positioned to understand his clients’ needs and come alongside them as a trusted advisor. And with roots in Canada, Matt is eager to expand BDI’s offerings to Rescue Missions serving our neighbors to the north.