Future-Proof Your Revenue with Monthly Donors

Monthly — aka Sustainer — giving programs are becoming increasingly vital for non-profit organizations to build a predictable revenue stream. In fact, CanadaHelps, whose fundraising platform supports more than 26,000 Canadian charities, reports that the number of monthly gifts is increasing and now represents 22% of total donations. That reality, as well as the popularity of subscription services, suggests that consumers are very receptive to giving monthly.

In ST’s recent webinar, “Futureproof Your Revenue with Monthly Donors”, three leading non-profit industry experts from ST, along with our long-time Canadian Cancer Society client, shared their experience and perspectives on four key areas of monthly giving:

  1. Role of Monthly Giving in Direct Marketing: Monthly giving programs offer long-term value, significantly surpassing the lifetime value of single gift donors. Understanding and leveraging monthly giving is crucial for driving and growing revenue.
  2. Levels of Investment: Successful monthly giving programs require investment in marketing, technology, and personnel — determining the right investment levels for each organization is essential for growth and sustainability.
  3. Acquisition: This is vital for expanding monthly giving programs. Crafting compelling offers and selecting scalable, effective channels for donor acquisition are crucial. The team recommends building an acquisition program starting with where you are today making the most of channels you’re already using as part of your fundraising program. This will help minimize risk and investment while building on expertise and experience you’ve already developed.
  4. Retention and Upgrade: The cost of acquiring a monthly donor is going up. Retaining and upgrading donors is vital for maximizing revenue from monthly giving programs and generating a positive ROI. Focusing on personalized communication, gratitude, engagement opportunities, and upgrade strategies can help keep and grow monthly donors more effectively.

Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) takes the lead

Marissa Barber from CCS, a long-time client of ST, offered her perspectives on monthly giving and how her organization has achieved impressive results in its monthly giving program by concentrating on all four of the above areas. The result: a stronger, more sustainable revenue stream that helped CCS weather the pandemic when events and face-to-face channels were shut down.

She also shared the thinking behind CCS’s new monthly giving offer focused exclusively on research. Supporting world-leading research has always been a major focus for CCS. And in 2022, they conducted a survey that showed over 70% of donors considered research to be the driving force behind their giving. Launching CCS’s new monthly giving offer was a natural step for the organization.

Since launching, Marissa has learned that in-person channels like telemarketing and face-to-face are the most effective at selling the monthly giving offer around research. The research CCS funds is extensive and usually lasts years, so donors want to hear all about it and ask questions. Marissa hopes engagement from these in-person conversations will reduce cancellation rates and have a positive impact on the “math of monthly giving” for CCS.

JAM Collective: Making the most of monthlies

ST’s Jess Tiberio shared insights on the simple math of monthly giving and how, by increasing retention rates and upgrading existing donors, organizations can significantly boost their revenue and make the most of the significant investment already made in acquiring monthly donors.

It was this insight that inspired ST to create the JAM Collective, which stands for Just About Monthlies. The initiative aims to create thought leadership and benchmarking data around monthly/sustainer donors and bring together organizations from the United States and Canada to collaborate and improve their monthly donor programs using donor journey mapping, benchmarking reports, A/B testing, and quarterly KPI roundtables. (You can learn more about JAM Collective here.)

Let’s keep the conversation going.

We hope you enjoyed this timely and informative webinar. And we invite you to re-watch it — or watch for the first time.

If you’d like to learn more about how ST can help improve and support your monthly giving efforts, contact Donna Richardson, Director, Fundraising Solutions at DonnaR@stephenthomas.ca.


Stephen Thomas

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