Turning a New #GivingTuesday Donor into a Lifetime Donor

As a millennial, I prefer to pay costs monthly—even if that means spending a little more.

And I’m not alone. 92% of millennials have active service subscriptions.

Embracing a subscription-based lifestyle has changed my spending habits. I no longer ask, “What’s the total cost?” I ask, “How much do I owe?” Consequently, my giving pattern has changed.

It’s just more feasible for me to give $20 monthly than it is to make a one-time $200 donation. Yes, you read that right! Understanding a situation like mine is crucial to running a successful sustainer giving program.

I promise you, I wasn’t always this bad at math. My first online donation was Giving Tuesday, 2012. I had a mission to change the world but only $20 to give. My donations since have increased, but the process is usually the same: send gift, receive robotic acknowledgment, and end of relationship. In fact, I might be currently trapped in your LYBUNT donor query (“last year but unfortunately not this year”).

But then there was one.

One organization broke the cycle. After I made my first gift, our relationship flourished. I’m now a proud lifetime supporter. Why? They followed a strategy I like to call the “Vowel Method.”

Get #GivingTuesday social media tips and templates in Blackbaud’s free toolkit: Download it now!

The Vowel Method has five elements: Accessible, Educational, Impactful, Open, and You. Let’s take a closer look.

Give me an A! A for Access, that is!

Your program should be accessible to everyone. It’s not a secret society. To be more inclusive, segment your donation forms and make each option obvious on your website. Be sure to dedicate a form to your sustainers. Marketers say, “If it’s not online, it doesn’t exist.” If your monthly giving program doesn’t have a separate donation form, the program might as well not exist.

Tip: On your standard donation form, make the recurring option the default.

Need ideas? Check out ASPCA’s Guardian giving monthly program.

E is for Education

How can someone join a program they were never aware of? It all starts with education. Every donor, volunteer, newsletter subscriber, and web dweller should know about your program. Create a welcome series targeting your new donors and establish the benefits of joining a monthly giving program. Teach your donors how easy it is to join.

Tip: Develop consistent key points across all marketing channels: emails, brochures, website, and social media. Future and current sustainers will see the same information whether they are online or at an event.


Donors want to know how their money will be used. Sustainers know it’s all about the impact. Promote your success on social media, in financial reports, and in newsletters. Share your #GivingTuesday success and highlight how sustainer gifts can make a bigger impact than a one-time gift.

Tip: Brainstorm creative ways to share testimonials from other sustainers and planned givers.

Stay Open

Have an open-door policy for your constituents. Your new #GivingTuesday relationship shouldn’t end on Wednesday. No one likes to feel invisible, especially not a first-time donor. Communicate! Invite them to special volunteer opportunities or events. Create a unique communication plan for your new donors to help them feel welcome.

Tip: Keep track of each time you ask a constituent to join your sustainer program. Some might not ever be interested in the option.

It’s all about You

Ask your new donors what they think. Collect their feedback with surveys and conversations. Learn who they are and what they care about. The biggest question is: Why did they join the program in the first place? You might be surprised by what you find. Ask them about their experiences and how you can better serve them.

Tip: Don’t just collect the data; act on it! Look for concerns that can be an addressed in the FAQ of your program.


We need all five elements for this strategy to work.

A – Accessible

E – Educational

I – Impactful

O – Open

U – You!

How can you incorporate the Vowel Method this #GivingTuesday?

Want to learn more about running a successful sustainer giving program? Join the next session of the Blackbaud University workshop Best Practices: Sustainer Giving.


#GivingTuesday tips