What if you could do one thing in your development program and increase your donations 600 – 800%?!!

You can! According to Adrian Sargeant and Jen Shang in a whitepaper produced by Blackbaud and Hartsook Institutes, Growing Philanthropy in the United States, 600-800% is the amount by which you can increase a donor’s lifetime value simply by converting him or her to a monthly giver.

Consider:  if you’re typical donor makes a $25 or $35 check at the end of the year, you can increase his or her giving dramatically by signing them up to give $5, $10, or $15 each month instead. A monthly contributor who gives $5/month, for example, has increased their contribution 240% in one year.  Now, multiply that by the number of years he or she will give.

The math is pretty simple and straight-forward so the real question is how do you get started?

The answer isn’t rocket science:  Ask.

Yep. That’s it. Ask and ask again.

For best results, you need to make sure your back-office procedures are in shape.  Make sure the protocol of who is going to acknowledge gifts, when, and how is understood by all personnel involved. Says Erica Waasdorp, author of Monthly Giving—The Sleeping Giant, most monthly givers do not need a receipt every month. A year-end summary of gifts, for tax purposes, is often appreciated.

Getting those back-end processes in order is important for all of us to do. Clarifying your gift receipt protocol and ensuring that the office staff is all on the same page will benefit your organization whether or not you begin to actively promote a monthly giving program so if starting a monthly giving program is the impetus to get the back-side of donations in shape, great! Having a more smoothly running donor stewardship program will be a side benefit.

For everyone pressed for time (and who isn’t?) and everyone who secretly (or not so secretly) hates asking, another benefit of monthly giving programs is that you don’t have to ask for gifts as frequently. If your donor is already signed up and giving, that’s one less ask to make.

With donor retention rates showing that our donors slip away each year, why not sign donors up early in their relationship with your organization (or from the outset!) so that supporting your organization becomes a habit.  You decrease the likelihood of your donor forgetting to renew his or her gift (or worse, deciding he or she doesn’t want to donate again). 

Many people are accustomed to having their bills automatically pay—it’s simple, convenient, and environmentally friendly. There are even some who completely ignore traditional paper mail. For them, signing up to have gifts automatically drafted makes as much sense as setting up automatic bill pay and “going paperless” on accounts and statements.

The typical monthly donor is someone who can’t give a major gift. Perhaps that’s why research shows that people are more likely to sign up to give monthly if you ask them for small amounts of money like $5, $10, and $15.

Another possible reason that monthly giving solicitations are more likely to succeed if the ask dollar amount is small may be related to the fact that monthly giving is especially attractive to the Millennial generation which has not yet come into its peak earning years. Because Millennials like the idea so much, consider marketing your monthly giving program to the young professionals groups within you organization.

 So, again, what does it take to get started:  Ask!  All you have to do is ask (and ask again…and again).  People may not respond the first time you ask.  They might want the idea to roll around their heads a little while.  The first time you ask might just be to plant the seed of an idea so keep asking.  And, as others come onboard your monthly giving program, ask them to tell their stories about why they wanted to give monthly. Others will begin to respond and in no time, you’ll have a Monthly Giving Program (and not just a monthly giving donor).

With a little bit of asking, that 600-800% increase can be yours!


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