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How to Build a Rocket Ship Now to Boost Your 2019 Monthly Giving

This article was written by Ariel Glassman. She is no longer with Ostara, but we want to preserve this piece so that you can learn from her and from the work she did while part of the Ostara team.

5-4-3-2-1… Here comes year-end giving! Buckle up. It’s time for the meteor shower of gifts you’ll receive by December 31 – and time to plan how you’ll make the most of those gifts in the future. This influx can be the basis of a new booster engine for your fundraising efforts in 2019 and beyond.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to build this powerful vehicle that can launch you into next year. It doesn’t actually involve aerospace engineering, though a systematic approach helps. This booster is a monthly recurring giving program.

Whether you already have a recurring monthly or sustainer giving program in place or you want to launch one, here are seven reasons why it’s worth the effort.

Why Monthly Giving is a Worthy Endeavor  

We know that monthly giving: 

Has higher annual retention rates (80% for first-time monthly donors compared to 20-25% for one-time gifts)  2016 Fundraising Effectiveness Project Data

Is on the rise – nonprofits raised 40% more through monthly giving in 2017 than in 2016 (compared to 19% growth in one-time gifts), and monthly giving’s share of all online revenue rose from 14% to 16%. M&R Benchmarks 2018 Study

Results in a greater return on investment and lower cost of acquisition and retention

Inspires donors to give 42% more on average than people who give one-time gifts and contribute greater long-term financial value to the organization Network for Good

Appeals to a broad range of demographics, including both Millennials and Baby Boomers

Strengthens your ability to reliably project fundraising budgets each year

Allows you to focus more on stewardship and building relationships with donors than solicitations, which leads to more meaningful partnerships over time

Your Monthly Giving Launch Plan

Your year-end giving results aren’t just cash in the door – donors who give at yearend are your best prospects for conversion to monthly donors. As you hit your yearend giving stride, make the time to do these three things to plan for the future and position 2019 as the “Year of the Monthly Donor” for your organization:  

Review your donor database and credit card processing system to make sure they can support automatic monthly giving (otherwise, manual management of monthly giving could eat up too much staff time). The key is to make this easy and convenient for donors, too.

Identify your best monthly giving prospects. Analyze your Giving Tuesday donors and regular yearend donors, as well as your loyal donors (who have given consistently in each of the past three years or more). You’re looking for donors who made relatively modest gifts, in the range of $50-$250. You’re going to ask them in January for an amount that seems very achievable, but that would slightly increase their total annual giving. For example, ask your $100 donors to give $10 a month – that would bring them up to $120 annually. That extra 20 percent can really add up over time! Asking again within a month of their most recent gift might sound too soon, but research shows that the best time to ask people to sign up for monthly gifts is close on the heels of their last one-time gift.

Steward monthly gifts intentionally and celebrate examples of what monthly giving makes possible in your newsletters and other publications. You may make a big push for monthly giving a few times per year, but you can subtly highlight the opportunity to make greater impact on the mission with convenient monthly gifts all year long. Profiling a monthly donor in your newsletter is a great way to spell out the impact and take advantage of peer influence in convincing people to step up and give monthly.  

You can apply this methodology any time you receive a large batch of one-time gifts. Excited about the return of GiveBIG in May 2019? Make sure you offer all those one-time donors the chance to become monthly supporters before summer hits. 


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