Stuck on You!

Over the past few weeks – we have been sharing our thoughts on the value of monthly giving, and some monthly giving myths.  In this third installment of our series dedicated to monthly giving let’s discuss how to keep those lovable monthly donors stuck on you(r organization)!


If the goal is keeping as many new donors as possible, beginning with business process is the place to be.  As fundraisers who have been around the block a few times can attest, monthly giving programs are often the place where the smallest detail matters – and getting it ‘right’ most always starts with reviewing and optimizing organizational business processes.  Roger Craver writes more about this here in The Agitator.


Focusing on business process is not the sexiest part of strategic innovation, however, in our opinion – it is the most critical.  If a strong infrastructure is not in place, other innovations (and investments) will be for naught.


As you wander down the monthly donor journey, here are 4 process priorities for consideration:

  1. Business process is king, queen and everything in between: As noted above, regimented and ardent business processes are the backbone of any developed monthly giving program – and the foundation for any retention strategy. Investing time to ‘look under the hood’ and understand your program’s finite details are not only a worthwhile investment, but critical to your program’s long-term growth plans.  Focus on specifics like your CRM system’s data- capture capabilities and to what extent you are optimizing potential in this area. Review your program’s current segmentation and mapping rules to identify opportunities for improvement.  Understand what current reporting functions look like, and then create a ‘wish list’ of enhancements for phased development and implementation. These are just a few of the dozens of business process opportunities that exist, so get creative and dig well beneath the surface in this area!  Your time will be well spent.
  2. Focus on attribution: Yep, we said the ‘A’ word. As programs grow in complexity and channel mix becomes more diverse, better defining attribution will become critical.  Understanding how and where donors are interacting with your organization is an essential step to determining more relevant messaging, creative and communication diet for your sustainer.  In addition, spending time focusing on attribution will help better define specific donor journeys, which is essential to developing intentional strategies that steward and cultivate monthly donors.
  3. Don’t go dark: Sadly, some organizations don’t want to overcommunicate with monthly donors, in fear of upsetting them with frequent asks for money.  However, all too often the pendulum swings too far in the other direction and these donors can find themselves receiving NO communication – leaving donors with the feeling that the organization has forgotten them and only are interested in their financial support. Take care to create a balanced communication diet for these donors, sending them your most relevant/strongest 4-5 appeals/renewals per year.
  4. Test the systems: Even in the most well-defined programs, there will always be slight nuances where donors don’t receive the treatment or cadence planned, despite a very thoughtful planning and even process mapping. The only way to ensure that those detailed process flow charts are actually happening in real time is to test your systems.  Make test gifts, across channels and price points, and track your experience. Let your gift lapsed – and see what happens. Change credit cards and see what happens.  This real-time data is invaluable and will be instrumental in guiding business process optimization.


Creating a strong monthly giving program is always a good idea, but in today’s uncertain world, these special supporters are even more important.  Yet, amassing monthly donors is just the first step.  Focusing on the details as discussed above will help optimize retention of these valuable donors. But wait, there’s more! Come back next week for our 4th and final installment in this monthly giving series where we will share our thoughts on some important monthly giving do’s and don’ts.



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.