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The Summer of Loving Monthly Donors


 By Mary P. Walker, Petrus Blog Contributor & Local Charity Board Member


Where I live, we can now attend Mass in a socially distant way. Attendance is less than half of what used to be “normal.” At the offertory, instead of a pew collection, the priest reminds us to please drop off our donations as we leave. 

 

Right now, pastors and directors of ministry are really loving their monthly donors. THIS summer is the PERFECT time to “share the love” through appeals to grow your base and ask your current monthly donors to prayerfully consider increasing their gifts.

Your benefactors understand that cash flow can be the difference between thriving, surviving, or dying. If they haven’t experienced a loss of income, they know people who have. They’ve seen businesses and nonprofits in their communities struggle and even close their doors. Your benefactors do not want that to happen to your ministry. So—it’s time to share the love!

Petrus Development has many resources to help you design appeals, express gratitude and minister to your benefactors. The following highlights some things to consider.

 

Sharing the Love with Current Monthly Donors

In your appeal to current monthly donors, thank, thank, thank them. They have kept you going and given you hope for a future of service. Tell them stories about how their ongoing support allowed you to make this bad situation a little bit better. And, they made it possible for you to still be here, able to adapt and plan for what is to come.

You can ask them if they will now help you do even more in these uncertain times by increasing their gift—if they are able—and please acknowledge that they may not be able, and thank them for their prayers.

 

Inviting New Monthly Donors to Share the Love

In your appeal to potential new monthly donors, thank them for past support, and ask them to prayerfully help you gain some security of income as we go forward into this uncertain future. Tell them how grateful you are for what they have empowered you to do, and update them on how they have helped your ministry adapt. Would they now help by providing a stable source of income to pay salaries and bills, keep staff employed, budget, and make plans?

As they too have experienced uncertainty, they will understand.

 

Using Your Data to Share the Love

As you design these appeals, be sure to use the power of your data to make the “ask” both personal and effective.

If your data lets you identify categories of supporters (e.g. parents, alumni, permanent parishioners), you can create different versions of your appeal to focus on their experiences with your ministry and their impact on the future.

 

The Power of Suggestion

It is much easier, and brings in more revenue, for your benefactors to check a box with a suggested giving amount than to come up with an amount on their own.  

What works well is to suggest different giving amounts based on a person’s past giving history. While it might be counterintuitive, ask those who have given the most over the last year to give more than those who have given less.

So how much should you ask for? It depends on what you know about a particular benefactor. What follows is what I would do if I knew nothing more than the donor’s giving history.

For benefactors being invited to give monthly, I believe about 25% of what they gave last year is a good place to start for a suggested monthly gift.  Be sure to offer other smaller options that recipients can choose. Check boxes on the return form work well for this.

Here is an example for a new monthly donor. Let’s say a married couple gave $2,000 over the last year. I would suggest a monthly gift of $500 with options of $300, $200 and “other.” Even if they choose the lowest suggested option, they will give $400 more in the coming year.

The goal is to get these benefactors committed! If the above couple wrote in $100, that’s still good. Monthly benefactors often make other gifts.

You can apply a similar process for suggesting amounts for increases for current monthly donors. Again, asking for about a 25% “raise” is probably a good start, but I’d also add options for larger and smaller monthly amounts. Make sure that your return instrument makes it clear what the TOTAL monthly gift will be at the new level.

For a current monthly donor at $200/month, I’d suggest an upgrade of $100/month (total $300/month), $50 (25% increase to $250/month), $25 and “other.”

Also, at “lower levels” of giving, ask for a higher percentage of increase and consider making that the first option. For example, if a current monthly donor is giving $50/month, I’d suggest a $50 upgrade (total $100/month), $30, $20 and “other.”

Be sure to ask for amounts that are “easy on the math challenged brain.” For example, for a new potential monthly benefactor who gave $2150 last year, I would not ask for $537.50/month, which is a 25%. Rather, I would probably round down to $500.

Yes, I know this is a bit arbitrary, and feel free to adjust if you think other suggested amounts will work with your benefactors. AND, be sure to give a “write in” option so that your benefactor can make a different level of commitment.

 

 

This is what I’ve observed:

  • Grouping your benefactors into categories (segmenting your data) and designing your appeal to these different audiences make the appeals more effective.
  • Suggesting amounts fosters commitment and increases revenue.
  • Even if a potential new donor does not sign up for monthly support or a current monthly donor does not want to increase their gift, often they make a one-time gift. Be sure to offer a one-time gift option, with suggested amounts plus an “other” write-in option on the reply instrument.

 

Looking Forward

  • Do these appeals NOW.
  • Use your data to personalize and suggest amounts for new monthly gifts or upgrades.
  • While you should consider how much a suggested amount should be, don’t worry about getting it “just right.” Their purpose is to prompt consideration and commitment.
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