Planning for 2011: Grow Your Sustainer File | npENGAGE

Planning for 2011: Grow Your Sustainer File

By on Nov 23, 2010


‘Twas the Tuesday before Thanksgiving
and all through the nonprofit community
all eyes were on Cyber Monday and end-of-year fundraising
and making the annual goal.

But don’t lose sight of an important piece of your 2011 fundraising strategy that you need to make sure is in place before we kick off the new year:  sustaining giving.

Here are three things to consider:

  1. Research shows us that Gen Xers are twice as likely than other generations to contribute via sustaining gift
  2. Many organizations are now reporting that their sustainer program is eclipsing their renewal program in highest net revenue
  3. There are many best practices available for how to maximize sustainer revenue

When your donors begin a sustainer relationship with you, they aren’t
asking you to walk on eggshells around them. They’re telling you that
you’re one of their favorite organizations and that they care enough
about you that they want to make a donation to you EVERY SINGLE MONTH.
It may hard to believe it, but there are donors out there that love you
that much.  And sustaining gifts are important because it’s a reliable revenue stream for your organization.

Before you go figuring out how to grow your program, take a little time to prevent your losses.  Close to 30% of US credit card holders change cards each year. This can be because of a card expiring, a card switching banks (such as, my Visa check card recently was switched to a MasterCard), losing a card, or a variety of other reasons.  This can translate to your sustainer file undergoing a lot of churn every year.

So when a monthly payment stops processing, don’t assume that your donor broke up with you. Remember, this is someone who loves you so much that they’re way more likely than the average donor to leave you a bequest some day. So, do everything you can to honor their intentions when they signed up as a sustainer.

There are several things you can do to prevent the expiration of credit cards in the first place or reactivate sustainers after their card has expired or been changed.  If you’re a Convio client, they include some settings in Convio that Convio Support can configure for you as well as fairly simple things like running a monthly email campaign to notify donors whose card is about to expire.  (Keep in mind that folks only get their new card a few weeks before their old one is no longer usable).

Most of these things are pretty simple to set up, and once you’ve done it, they will run like clockwork. In no time at all the effort will pay for itself as you capture sustaining gifts that your donors had every intention of making.

After you’ve figured out this stop-loss strategy, then it’s time to figure out how to grow your sustainer file through using best practices – a topic for a future blog post.  So stay tuned, and happy Cyber Monday and end-of-year fundraising!


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