6 Proven Best Practices for Your Sustained Giving Program | npENGAGE

6 Proven Best Practices for Your Sustained Giving Program

By on May 18, 2017


Recurring Donor Giving Trends

Recurring donations aren’t a new concept. In fact, we have long been speaking about their merits. A surprisingly relevant Blackbaud whitepaper from 2004 states: “…[F]undraisers are on a search for new techniques that increase donations, build donor loyalty and add a new level of predictability, while also improving operational efficiency.”

Still true over 13 years later!

It’s no surprise that sustained or recurring giving continues to justify its worth as a valuable fundraising technique. The concept of recurring gifts is simple: donors commit to a donation amount that is paid regularly — most often monthly, and occasionally bi-monthly or quarterly.

In Sustainers in Focus Part 1, the Blackbaud Institute uncovered the justifications for a sustained giving program. If you’re wondering if sustained giving is applicable to your organization, spoiler alert: the answer is YES! I’d highly suggest reading through the report to learn why.

But it’s not enough to say what works. The next step is mapping out the practices that you can implement to make your sustained giving program a success. That’s why, in the newly released Sustainers in Focus Part 2, we’ve shared six best practices for supporting a sustained giving program.

The six best practices uncovered in Sustainers in Focus Part 2 can help jump-start a monthly giving program or take your current processes to the next level. I’d suggest revisiting these practices frequently to make sure you’re on target, and reread Sustainers in Focus Part 1 to remind yourself of the bottom line: sustained giving works.

The top six best practices for sustained giving programs:

  1. Ask new donors to give on a monthly basis.
  2. Convert multi-year, single gift donors to sustainers
  3. Make monthly giving the website default
  4. Use a credit card updater service and update invalid credit card data
  5.  Encourage donors to use electronic funds transfer
  6. Steward your sustainers

I know what you might be thinking: “This all looks great, but how do I actually do these six things?” Well, I’m glad you asked! We’re kicking off a new blog series that will dive deeper into each of these six practices to explain the ins and outs to help you create your foolproof program step-by-step.

Trust me, implementing these practices will be worth your time. You’ll turn your revolving door into a place donors will want to stay. By creating a convenient experience for your monthly donors, you’ll gain the benefit of higher sustained revenue and a group of committed, loyal donors that want to incessantly support your organization.

So, stay tuned for our next post on asking new donors to give on a monthly basis. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with another timeless quote from Blackbaud in 2004:
“Incorporating a recurring gift program into your integrated fundraising strategy is well worth the effort.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Sustainers in Focus 2 Banner


Ali Martinez is an Associate at the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact. With experience in social marketing, advertising, and project management, Ali loves combining strategy and creativity to create interesting and effective campaigns. She manages the promotion of Blackbaud’s thought leadership initiatives to establish the Blackbaud Institute brand, maximize exposure, and help provide a seamless experience for key sector experts. She discovered a passion for philanthropy through interning at the Thinkery Children’s Museum and volunteers her time as an animal foster for a local nonprofit. When she’s not writing to-do lists, you’ll find her at a Longhorn football game or hiking around Hill Country.

Comments (2)

  • Alycia Zarlons says:

    Hello Ali,

    I asked my supervisor about encouraging the ACH option over RCC through a card that can easily expire and here was her hesitation…

    Yes we do but it’s a two edge sword. If your ACH (bank) account number is compromised a thief has access to all the funds in your account. If your credit card is compromised they can run up your credit (which will likely not be your responsibility) but can’t take your life savings. So for that reason, I hesitate to encourage that.

    Do you agree with this? Thanks so much for your feedback!

    • Ali Martinez says:

      Thanks for the question Alycia. Your supervisor brings up a good point but I think there are inherent risks in all methods of payment. Consider, for instance, that checks can be lost or stolen in the mail. That said, I wouldn’t count out EFT payments because of an unwarranted assumption of higher risk.

      Note too that organizations should be enlisting a secure system to process sensitive information. By accepting payments online, your organization is (hopefully) managing donors’ information securely by using a reputable third-party payment system that will have their own security in place. See https://www.blackbaud.com/pci-compliance/.

      I think the real issue comes down to what your audience is asking for. If using credit cards is working, continue but utilize an automatic credit card updater service. If you’ve taken the necessary security measures in place, you can maximize retention through either methods.

      I hope this helps, Alycia. We’ll be posting additional blogs covering these topics and Sustainers in Focus 2 has some great data about the benefits of using these systems. Read the full description in the reports at http://www.blackbaudinstitute.com/sustainers.

      Good luck!

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