Case Study: Growing Your Monthly Donor Program Through Digital Promotion

Newport ONE’s David Gregory outlines why monthly donors are so valuable to nonprofits.

THE QUESTION

Are monthly donors worth more time and strategic investment?

The Newport ONE team says “Yes!” and here are three reasons why:

1. Monthly donors, also known as sustainers, are almost always more valuable to nonprofits. Their donations, although often smaller, add up significantly over time, resulting in a higher donor lifetime value (the total amount of money a donor gives over their entire time of giving to an organization) than many annual donors. Plus, a portion of them (23% according to a report by Classy.org) will make additional one-time gifts above and beyond their monthly support.

2. Sustainers are usually the most loyal donor group for nonprofits. The average retention rate for monthly donors is often 90+%, which is nearly double the average overall donor retention rate.

3. Monthly donors make excellent planned giving/bequest prospects.  Loyalty and trust are among the key attributes seen in those making a planned gift, and sustainers top the list of donors with these qualities. 

THE CASE

It would make sense that, with all the pluses a monthly giving program brings to the table, organizations would want to focus on growing their sustainer base. To support this idea, Newport ONE decided to conduct our own internal study. We looked at one organization’s monthly donor program growth and the resulting increase in income.

For this case study, our team worked with a client on a focused, strategic approach using digital media to promote their monthly donor program overall and to also upgrade existing sustainers. The plan consisted of various strategies to grow the monthly donor file, including:

  • a targeted “prospecting” email series deployed throughout the year to attract new monthly donors
  • integrated digital graphics on the organization’s website and social media
  • an email series asking current monthly donors to increase their monthly gift amount
  • testing the suggested giving amounts to find the optimal ask, and
  • a website pop-up/lightbox deployed several times during the year to drive increased sustainer giving as well as upgrade existing monthly donors

THE RESULTS

Overall, the organization experienced a steady increase in monthly donors over the test period, with an overall increase of 23% in the number of sustainers and a 25% increase in revenue. 

Our test of a lower initial first and second ask amount ($10, $20, $50) versus a slightly higher first and second ask ($12, $25, $50) yielded interesting results. The lower ask amounts converted more people to sign up as monthly donors without lowering the overall average gift.

THE CONCLUSION

Most nonprofit organizations should consider investing more in a monthly giving program. One of the more effective ways to reach potential new sustainers and current monthly donors is digital marketing (emails, website promotion, social media promotion, etc.). Phone calls work well, too.

To build a strong sustainer program, nonprofits need to be willing to play the long game and understand that growth in monthly giving programs is usually slow but steady. While the wins are not immediate, the long-term payoff is substantial.

Interested in learning more about how Newport ONE can help your organization launch or build a monthly giving program? Reach out to us and let’s talk.

Visit Newport ONE for more information.


As Senior Vice President at Newport ONE, David partners with animal welfare organizations to build their fundraising programs and increase donations. Prior to joining Newport ONE, David served as an executive for a large animal welfare organization for twelve years. He is passionate about excellence in organizational leadership and actively serves on several nonprofit boards. He is a member of The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement and served on two committees for five years. David resides in Michigan with his wife, Jill, their four kids, and an adopted dog, Samson.


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