How to Create Lifelong Donors through Monthly Giving
by Harvey McKinnon, 144 pp
You’ll rejoice or you’ll grimace when you read Harvey McKinnon’s new book, How to Create Lifelong Donors Through Monthly Giving.
If you have a monthly donor program, you’ll rejoice because you’ll discover ways to tweak, enhance, and refine what you’re doing already.
But if you don’t have a program, you’ll grimace at the opportunity you’re squandering by overlooking this proven money-maker.
McKinnon, the guru of monthly giving, convincingly shows that:
- Practically ANY organization can attract monthly donors.
- Even if your organization is starting from scratch, you can depend on 10 percent or more of your current donors immediately converting to monthly giving.
- Your file of monthly donors can mushroom to 40 or 50 percent or more with targeted effort.
- A majority of those donors will regularly upgrade their gifts and continue to give for 10, 15, or 20 years.
- And, most importantly, with a robust monthly giving program in place, you’ll have a guaranteed, LOW COST revenue stream you can count on year in and year out.
With great clarity, McKinnon spells out exactly what you need to know, and what you need to do, to establish or refine your program. His is a laser focus that explores the initial challenges you’ll face, dispels a multitude of misconceptions, and serves up the step by step specifics to undergird your successful effort.
About the Author
Harvey McKinnon is known as the “Guru of monthly giving.” He wrote Hidden Gold, the first book on the subject. It has helped fellow fundraisers raise many billions of dollars through sustainer programs.
His bestselling book The 11 Questions Every Donor Asks is used as a major gift training manual at organizations throughout the US and Canada.
McKinnon is also the co-author of the #1 international best-seller The Power of Giving: How Giving Back Enriches Us All. It won the Nautilus Gold Award for Best Books on Social Change, and it was also selected as an Amazon Best Book of the Year. It has been translated into nine languages (all royalties have been donated to charities).
He has produced many award-winning documentary films that have been aired on the BBC, CBC, PBS, and networks around the world. They include Side-By-Side: Women Against AIDS, The Black Sea in Crisis, and biographies of David Suzuki and William Shatner.
He is a keynote speaker and highly rated trainer who has taught fundraising around the world. His consulting company, with offices in Vancouver and Toronto, works with dozens of clients in Canada and the USA. He has served on many nonprofit and foundation boards.
Table of Contents
PART 1: Monthly giving—why you’ll love it
Chapter 1: The challenges you face
Chapter 2: The essence of monthly giving
Chapter 3: Always answer the phone at 8:37 P.M.
Chapter 4: Why you are losing donors?
Chapter 5: Arguably, your most important fundraising consideration—lifetime or long-term value (LTV)
Chapter 6: The magnificent seven
Chapter 7: Will it work for you?
Chapter 8: Is your organization ready?
Chapter 9: Who will join your program?
Chapter: 10: What’s in a name?
Chapter 11: How to collect your recurring gifts
Chapter 12: Convert check or credit card donors to electronic funds transfer
Chapter 13: Eleven gentle steps
Part 2: Mastering the techniques
Chapter 14: How much should you ask for?
Chapter 15: The most loyal sustainers
Chapter 16: Blondie was right—“Call me”
Chapter 17: Email—a cost-effective way to acquire sustainers
Chapter 18: Thanking sustainers
Chapter 19: How to incorporate monthly giving into your website
Chapter 20: Recruiting sustainers at events
Chapter 21: How to start a sustainer program at an event
Chapter 22: Social media—test it
Chapter 23: Two-step isn’t just a dance
Chapter 24: Looking people in the eye
Chapter 25: The bees need you
Chapter 26: Emotion and involvement
PART 3: How to increase the value of sustainers
Chapter 27: How to use premiums effectively
Chapter 28: How to find twenty thousand sustainers
Chapter 29: When a donor joins your program
Chapter 30: Your communications strategy
Chapter 31: Your most important task
Chapter 32: How to upgrade your sustainers
Chapter 33: Should you make additional appeals?
Chapter 34: Some of your sustainers can write large checks
Chapter 35: Success is all about retention
Chapter 36: The hidden goldmine in your cancellations
PART 4: The barriers you will face, and how to conquer them
Chapter 37: How to avoid failure
Chapter 38: The enemy is . . .
Chapter 39: The final gift—legacies
Chapter 40: What’s your legacy?
This article is excerpted from Harvey McKinnon's book, How to Create Lifelong Donors Through Month;y Giving, ©Emerson & Church, Publishers. To obtain reprint permission, call 508-359-0019 or email us.
You Absolutely Need a Monthly Giving Program, and Here’s Why
Chances are you have to persuade others in your organization to embrace a monthly giving program. The first reason alone—more money—should convince them. But, as you know, rational thinking doesn’t always prevail. Some in your organization will object because they want to focus on major gifts, not invest in a new program. Or they think using monthly giving will only raise a small amount of money.
To help you address these objections, I’m going to detail seven compelling reasons why a strong monthly giving program will provide you with more security, and improve your impact:
Reason #1: You raise more money
Sustainers will give you two to four times more money annually than they would by making single gifts. For example, if you convert a one-time $50 donor into a $15-a-month donor, your organization realizes nearly four times more money ($180 versus $50).
Reason #2: You develop a more positive relationship
One reason you may face attrition is that your relationship with supporters is based on repeated asks: “Can you give us another gift?” Some organizations are great at stewardship, but the majority of donor interactions involve asking for more money, rather than offering authentic gratitude and sharing the impact of the donor’s gift.
If a friend calls every few weeks to ask you to buy lunch, it can negatively impact your feelings toward the individual. Soliciting donors ten to twenty times a year can produce the same effect. When giving is automatic, however, you can focus on strengthening the bond because you don’t repeatedly ask.
Reason #3: Monthly donors give for more years
Sustainers stay active for more years than single-gift donors, as dozens of monthly giving audits prove. Sustainers can easily be worth ten times as much over a lifetime of giving.
Reason #4: You can rely on sustainers
Monthly giving helps you plan better because it provides stable, predictable income. It is close to recession-proof; we’ve seen very few cancellations, even during hard economic times.
Reason #5: You lower your costs
The public’s perception is that the lower fundraising costs are, the better. Recurring giving lowers your expenses. You don’t have to send monthly donors every appeal—therefore you save in design, printing, and postage costs. That adds up to a lot of money when you have thousands of regular donors.
Reason #6: Your income will grow over time
A $15-a-month donor gives $180 a year. Each year you should ask them to increase their monthly pledge a bit (upgrading). A $5 upgrade is 33 percent more money each year. So even if your program is not adding net sustainers, income will increase.
Reason #7: Convenience
When I wrote Hidden Gold twenty years ago, I claimed that donors find monthly giving more convenient. A few years later, Rosemary Oliver at Amnesty International surveyed sustainers to discover why people join. She discovered that “9% joined Amnesty’s monthly giving program to stop torture, while 51% said they became a sustainer because it was convenient for them.” I knew that convenience played a big factor. I didn’t understand how much.
Your donors appreciate the convenience of automatically paying their Netflix or utility bills. Businesses have embraced the “subscription economy” because it’s profitable. In some countries, people don’t use checks. All payments are automatic, online or via cell phones.