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Monthly Donors: The Loyal 99

The Importance of Monthly Donors

By Mary Walker, Petrus Blog Contributor


“If a man has a 100 sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the 99 in the hills and go in search of the stray?”
(Matthew 18:12)


When the shepherd left the 99 sheep to go after the stray, he had confidence that the ones left behind would stay put. Those sheep were trustworthy. 


Our monthly donors, those whose gifts are electronically drafted each month, remind me of the loyal 99. They empower your ministry by giving it the security to plan, budget, and grow. You can “go out” and do other fundraising knowing that, thanks to them, bills can be paid.


I’m sure your ministry welcomes all gifts and appreciates all benefactors. However, monthly donors are special. Your ministry is so important to them that they voluntarily undertake an ongoing commitment. Rather than make a one-time gift that they can afford right NOW, they are making a much bigger gift over time—because even the smallest monthly gift quickly adds up.


Here’s the story of one monthly giver. This young man joined a ministry’s monthly giving program during high school. He had just gotten his first part-time job and wanted to contribute financially to his faith. He committed to giving $25/month drafted from his bank account and continued this gift all through college. (total so far: about $2,100). After graduation, when he began his career, he raised the amount of his monthly gift to $50 for the next four years (total so far: about $4,600). 


His job required frequent moves and travel, and although he attended Mass when he could (part of this time was during the COVID years), he never settled into a parish. He found electronic giving to be an easy way to support his faith with his mobile life. Today he is in graduate school and does not make the income he once did. He expects to live in his community for at least the next four years and has settled into a parish. He contributes electronically there. Even with his reduced income and parish giving, he did not stop supporting the ministry. Although he felt he had to reduce his monthly amount, he is still giving 12 years later. 


His story shows that monthly givers are LOYAL. Once a person commits, they tend to stay committed and even grow their gift. When faced with financial challenges, they are reluctant to stop their monthly giving. In addition, monthly donors are good major gift prospects for campaigns, gifts through required minimum distributions (RMDs) of retirement funds, and estate gifts BECAUSE they’ve already committed to supporting your work. 


What does this mean for fundraising activities?

First, we should work really hard to grow our base of monthly givers. If you notice that a person is making regular gifts, ask them to commit to monthly giving. This change will naturally grow their loyalty AND allow your ministry to make better budgeting decisions, knowing when the money will come in. Also, every year, make an “ask” to your monthly givers to increase their gift. This ask should be customized to the amount they already give. Those who are giving more per month are asked to increase their gift by a larger amount. 


How much should the “ask” be? The better you know your individual donors, the better you’ll be able to choose an appropriate amount. A 20-25% increase for the “larger” gifts is a reasonable starting point. If you are making the ask in an appeal letter, you can also offer larger and smaller choices for increases. For example, if somebody is giving $100 a month, unless you have a better sense of their means, ask them to prayerfully consider raising the gift to at least $125.


For those giving smaller amounts, such as $25 or $50 per month, you might want to ask them to double the gift—especially if they’ve been supporting you for a number of years.


Second, we should NEVER take our monthly givers for granted. There was an infomercial that tried to get people to buy a rotisserie oven. The selling point was that after you put the chicken in the oven, you don’t have to worry about it. The tagline was “SET IT AND FORGET IT!” 


We can be tempted to do this for our monthly givers because they are SO loyal and SO constant in their support. Their gifts just keep coming. With the day-to-day work of fundraising, “SET IT AND FORGET IT!” can creep in.


Yet, we should CONSTANTLY express gratitude for their commitment. We do this by keeping them informed and creatively finding ways to thank them. Some ideas that I’ve seen work are: simple Christmas gifts; personal handwritten notes from staff or those served by the ministry; face-to-face calls every so often; occasional thank-you phone calls; special prayer services/rosaries, etc. for their intentions; and Masses celebrated for significant events in their lives. In fact, calling and asking them what they’d like you to pray for is a great way to keep in touch.


About 15 years ago, I worked for a ministry that was in the early days of growing a monthly giving program. Over the next ten years, I saw the TRANSFORMATIVE power of these gifts. Monthly giving went from a way to get cash into the ministry to a MAJOR source of revenue. In addition, monthly giving was foundational in empowering the ministry to build and grow relationships with benefactors, which literally pays off when it’s time for a campaign.  


Are you looking for ways to improve your monthly giving program? If so, click HERE to access our free checklist for stewarding monthly donors. 



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