That Can’t Be Right … Can It? Debunking 3 Popular Monthly Giving Myths

In last week’s post, we shared our thoughts on the value of monthly donors. If you missed that post, and want to start there, check it out here.


Now that we can all agree on the great value of a healthy and robust sustainer program, let’s spend just a few moments talking about some popular myths as it relates to that coveted monthly donor.


  1. “Channel diversification is the primary key to growing a sustainer program.” False! We wholeheartedly agree that channel diversification is A key to program growth, but it is not only NOT the primary way, it is also not the most important. Shoring up (and continuing to ensure) backend processes are often the place of largest impact to a monthly giving program’s sustainability and is the ONLY way to support long-term growth of the program. If the backend processes aren’t tight, no amount of channel diversification is going to grow a program. In fact, it can be argued that aggressively growing your program’s channel mix, without a focus on process, will create greater overall challenges, including significant donor churn.


  1. “If we offer a monthly (first) giving option, overall revenue will reduce.” While it may be true that in specific campaigns/strategies where the monthly giving offer is prioritized, one-time gift revenue may come down, it is very possible (and in fact likely!) that overall revenue delivered to the bottom line is higher at the end of the day.  As with any tactic, we suggest statistically executed testing to determine the exact impact to your organization’s revenue, but it’s important not to just look at the upfront performance of any given test, but also subsequent performance of your audience who converts to monthly as well. In our experience, prioritizing a monthly giving ask will almost always elevate overall revenue delivered to your organization.


  1. “My organization will receive many calls from upset donors if we prioritize a monthly-first/default giving option because donors will be confused what they are signing up for.” This is a prime example of ‘the devil is in the details’. If care is taken to enable clarity of what the donor is signing up for, organizations receive relatively few calls and active cancels.  One way to help ensure this is to survey a few folks (who don’t normally review this type of effort) if the offer is clear.  Hearing their perspective can provide additional insights into tweaks that can increase offer clarity.  Of course, if an organization begins to receive a significant (over 5%) of active cancels after a specific campaign is launched, it is a good idea to reevaluate the offer and make necessary adjustments to the language to promote better understanding.


These myths are by no means exhaustive, but they are widely spread and those that we hear most often.


And if you are eager to hear a bit more about monthly giving, please come back next week when we share our thoughts on sustainer retention.  Until then, happy fundraising!


Erica O'Brien

Erica O’Brien, Managing Partner and Co-Owner, has worked within the marketing and non-profit industry for nearly twenty years. Before joining the MINDset team, she worked at Cubine Chapman Adams & Hussey (formerly Adams Hussey & Associates) for nearly a decade, where she served as Principal & Senior Vice President.