Accidental Giver or Loyal Supporter

Word on the street is that acquiring new donors and then retaining them is getting more and more difficult and more and more expensive for nonprofit organizations. Smart organizations are not only looking to make their acquisition and renewal campaigns more efficient, they’re also evaluating places where they may be leaving money on the table.  Here are a couple examples of money left on the table, from the donors’ point of view.

I signed up as a sustaining donor to an organization just a month before my card was due to expire. Only the first $10 donation was processed and then the next month my additional gifts immediately started failing. So, rather than donating the intended $120 a year to this organization (until I told them I was no longer interested), my gift that year totaled $10. That happened sometime in 2008 or 2009. This organization has reached out to me via direct mail and email in the time since then, but always through an acquisition or renewal campaign. They never called or emailed to say, “Hey, Michelle! You’re one of our most committed supporters and pledged to give us $10 a month – all we need from you is an updated credit card.” It’s always bothered me a little that this organization has never acknowledged my previous commitment.

Similarly, a friend of a friend recently was the victim of credit card fraud and had to get a new card issued to her. “Esther” told me that she was so pleased that one of the nonprofit organizations she supports proactively reached out to her to let her know that her card was failing and provided an easy way for her to log in and update her gift with her new billing information.

To some degree these two experiences illustrate the two diametrically opposite philosophies that organizations seem to have when it comes to managing their relationships with recurring donors.

  • Some groups treat their sustainers as their most loyal donors, keep them updated on successes they are achieving, ask for the occasional additional gift to a special appeal, and reach out to them to upgrade their gift on an annual basis.
  • Other groups worry that the donor checked the “make this a monthly gift” box by accident, suppress them from all emails being sent, do their best to not remind them of the total amount they are giving every year, and assume that the donor intentionally broke up with them when their card expires.
  • And, of course, since the world is not black and white, there are plenty of organizations that fall somewhere along the spectrum between these two examples.

As a donor to your organization (or another one just like it), I want to let you know that I’d prefer to be treated like your most loyal donor.

If your organization isn’t already there, don’t worry, you can be. Your infrastructure, specifically technology, can make achieving that donor-centric model a little easier. As your trusty product manager for the Convio Luminate Online Fundraising solution, I’m here to let you know that if you are a Convio Luminate Online user – good news! We just released a bunch of exciting new features that will help you make your sustainer gift program more donor-centric. They include:

  • A new look and feel for the Constituent Self-Service gift management
  • Better tracking and segmentation of recurring donors
  • More data on which gifts are failing, and why
  • Ability to change the day of the month on which a gift is processed
  • Better integration of online/offline sustainer management.

Check out the Convio Customer Community or your Account Manager if you want to learn more.

Good luck on your journey to donor-centric success!