Monday, January 9, 2012

Monthly Sustainers

There’s a lot of buzz about donors who give you $15/month on their credit card or EFT.  

Who should be in your sustainer club?

The vast majority of sustainers are annual fund donors.  Remember these 
terrific donors?  They are the 80% of your donors who contribute 20% of your 

These donors are wonderful!  They are the group you source for major gifts.  They’re also a great resource for monthly sustainers.

Yes, of course every organization has a story about a donor who wants to give $1,000/monthly.  But, by and large, your monthly sustainers are annual fund donors.

Even if you’re small, 80% of your donors is still a big number.  Probably not a group you can just “look at” on excel and decide who should be asked.

Let’s say your major gift cut off is $1,000/annually, so your annual fund donors give $0-$999.

We’ve identified a few key segments of annual fund donors likely to become sustainers:
  • Lapsed donors who’ve given at least $1,000 in a single year (go back 5 years);
  • Any event donors who don’t make other gifts;
  • Current donors who have given multiple gifts (excluding events) in at least one year in the last 5 years - no matter the individual or total/annual gift size;
  • Prospects active on email opens/clicks/social media;
  • Seniors on a fixed income - customize the ask to be low amounts;
  • Any annual fund donors who've downgraded giving levels over the last couple years;
  • Donors who were major donors in the past, but whose levels have dropped (especially if they gave throughout the lean years of 2009-2011)

Depending on your database size and length of existence, you can adjust the time or giving levels on these criteria to get larger or smaller batches of donors. 

Consider soliciting 5-10% of your annual fund donors.  Test, test your messages with sub-groups and then scale up to the full 5%-10% of annual fund donors.