You’ve worked hard to build your monthly sustainer program into a base of loyal donors that provides important ongoing revenue. You know first-hand the high cost of acquiring a new monthly sustainer- and it’s a lot. Beyond those new acquisitions, what’s the lifetime value (LTV) of your monthly donors? What are your current retention rates?
The success of any monthly sustainer program is tied as much to retention as it is to the ability to bring new donors into the fold. An increasing number of nonprofits are turning to telemarketing as one of the tools in their toolbox to supercharge their sustainer programs. If you haven’t yet incorporated telemarketing into your sustainer program, here are four ways to use the tried-and-true method of personal donor contact that can have a dramatic impact on both retention and lifetime value.
When a Sustaining Member lapses due to a declined credit card transaction, what happens next? Often, their credit card simply needs to be updated because it has expired or replaced with a different credit card. Perhaps they receive an email or letter in the mail? Maybe there’s a designated employee or volunteer that makes a quick call to the donor? What happened to that “small stack” of donor names? Are they still sitting on someone’s desk? What about the next month and the month after that? Over time, more and more donors are lost and the harder it becomes to bring them back on board.
Unfortunately, even with the best intentions, most organizations see these lapsed sustainers fall by the wayside. Don’t let these valuable donors slip between the cracks. Instead, send those donors that lapse each month to your telemarketing firm for follow-up. A quick, personal phone call is often all that’s needed to re-establish their sustaining gift.
When was the last time you picked up the phone to personally thank a monthly donor? Making Stewardship calls is a simple yet powerful way to convey your appreciation while also having a positive impact on sustainer retention and lifetime value. Stewardship is all about building deeper relationships with your donors. But that means having a larger plan to thank, interact, and communicate with donors in ways that solidify their support over a long period of time. Donors want to feel good about giving and that they are appreciated. They want to know that they are part of something bigger and that they, along with other donors, are making a real impact on your organization.
Stewardship calls should be simple in their message- to say thank you. The most important thing is to listen to donors and make sure they feel appreciated and valued. In today’s fast-paced, high-tech, chaotic world, it’s refreshing to have someone pick up the phone to simply say “Thank you. You matter. We appreciate you.” It leaves a lasting impression that helps forge a deeper relationship with your donors and leads to higher retention rates.
A Sustainer Upgrade campaign involves calling current Sustaining Members and asking them to increase their monthly gift. Much like an Additional Gift campaign to one-time donors, the need should be urgent and relevant to the philanthropic motivations of your monthly donors. The idea is to gradually inch donors to a higher lifetime value by simply increasing their monthly donation by a small, incremental amount.
Calling current sustainers and asking them to upgrade is also a terrific opportunity to thank them and make sure they feel good about their current giving. As we have discussed, donors who feel appreciated and understand the value of their gift are much more likely to continue giving.
Converting current one-time donors to sustainers creates a steady revenue stream, increases member retention, and lowers renewal costs in future years. A one-time donor who has given in the past is much more likely to become a sustaining donor versus someone who has never given. Why not reach out to explain all the benefits (to them and your organization) of monthly giving? Not only will you gain more monthly donors, you’ll also likely receive one-time gifts that help pay for the cost of the campaign. Donors respond best to conversion requests within the first four months of their renewal date, or within the last three months prior to expiration.
If your nonprofit accepts EFT payments for sustaining gifts, the other type of conversion campaign to explore is converting current monthly credit card sustainers to EFT payments. This can greatly increase retention rates by avoiding many of the reasons for declined transactions, including expired or “maxed out” cards.
Think your list is “too small” for telemarketing? Think again! Consistent, regular calling is key- no matter if you have 10 or 1,000 monthly sustainer calls to make. Falcon Fundraising, Inc. works with clients of all sizes. Contact Falcon Fundraising today and watch your sustainer program grow.