It has been said that recurring donors give 5 times more to an organization than one-time donors—FIVE TIMES MORE—which makes recurring giving one of the most important topics that a nonprofit should address for long-term sustainability. Attracting first-time donors, retaining donors and converting donors into recurring givers should be a priority. Yet how specifically does a nonprofit leader go about reaching her potential recurring donors? I believe addressing four areas within your nonprofit communications with your existing or potential givers will make a difference in capturing your donor’s heart and increasing recurring, sustaining donations.
Learn to tell YOUR story well and how it plays a part in the foundation of your NONPROFIT’S story. Most nonprofit organizations are borne out of the pain of personal experience and a decision to help others that are in the same situation. Paint that picture—draw the potential donors into events and experiences that directly led one to start a nonprofit, inviting all into an enveloping story that, first, captures attention. Use statistics, cite studies, and affirm the issues one is addressing within the nonprofit in an honest, emotionally persuasive way. Motivate the potential donor to act on his or her emotions by becoming a donor or recurring donor. Numerous internet articles and resources exist to guide you through storytelling and writing your story well. In short, tell a story that will capture your donor’s heart.
Learn to tell IMPACT stories well, addressing the experiences of those directly impacted through the nonprofit. Gather these stories with pictures, videos and direct quotes. These stories are your nonprofit’s greatest marketing assets. It is why you do what you do! Impact stories reach the donor’s heart. They draw a donor into the successes and makes one feel a part of the mission. Never underestimate the power of an emotional connection. Build a relationship on that connection with “great news” from the frontlines of your nonprofit in a well-thought-out plan. Paint a picture with impact stories as well. Again, draw the potential donor into the events—allow them to experience what you experience. Be sure to document feedback and stories that your served population has given during the current year to use next year.
Drip, Drip, Drip
Decide on a Communication Plan to reach your current donors and those subscribed to your emails or website. One of the best methods to send ongoing communication is through an email drip campaign— a set of marketing emails that will be sent out automatically on a schedule—which can be completed and scheduled ahead of time, even at the beginning of each year! WNPA uses MailChimp. Decide if you will contact your donors/subscribers monthly, quarterly, or twice a year for example, with the explicit goal of adding new donors or turning existing donors into monthly recurring donors. If you decide to communicate quarterly, decide which impact stories you will offer in which month, with a call to action. Name your recurring giving program such as “Impact Partners” or “Circle,” or a name that will go with your mission. WNPA’s sustaining programs free our world-changing women to “pursue their God-given passion”—our recurring giving program is called “Passion Partners.” Check your email platform to learn the best way to set up an email drip campaign.
Tag, Tag, Tag
Most email marketing platforms include the ability to Tag and Segment an audience, enabling one to send the right communication to a right audience. Be sure that ALL your contacts (for example, donors and subscribers) have been added to your email platform for ease of communication. From one main collective audience, one can give specific tags to those within the audience such as Donor, Recurring Donor or Subscriber. Once all within the audience are correctly tagged, one can easily build a drip campaign to a specific tagged audience. An audience can be subdivided further by using additional tags, for example those tagged as “Donor” may also have a tag such as “Over $2,000 Annually” or “Under $200 Annually,” in order to build specific communication or drip campaigns for those particular donors. Most platforms have the ability to Segment an audience with pre-built or customized segments such as Subscriber Engagement, Demographics or Behavior. Learn all you can about the Tag and Segment options within your platform. Doing so will allow one to deliver timely, scheduled, appropriate communication encouraging maintenance and growth in relationships with your donors. Members, for more information on using tags, watch our tutorial—MailChimp 101— on the Member Resources page.
The benefits of a recurring monthly donation program are apparent to a small nonprofit. Not only do recurring donors give 5 times more annually, the monthly income is a life-giving resource in sustainability, especially during slower giving months. So, I encourage you to begin building your recurring giving program. Remember, our Lord has appointed you to His service! Serve Him well.
“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to His service.”—1 Timothy 1:12