Monday, April 16, 2012

What Should Be Your Sustainer Program’s Structure?

At Arrowhead Management, we are definitely cheap. 

So, when we talk about incentives for Monthly Sustainers, we’re not talking pricey corporate swag.  Not that winter scarf that even this nonprofit MBA student sported, complete with a Merrill Lynch logo (yes, yes, it was 2006).

Your Sustainers are a valuable group of donors.  They are providing you predictable revenue.  You don’t have to spend variable costs to solicit them.    

Your Sustainers should receive some special attention and perks from you.

Perks can include:

  • Opting out from solicitations (except for event invitations)
  • Invitation to a special (free) briefing by your CEO/Board Chair
  • Receiving a special report – maybe it’s the mid-year update report you send only to major donors 
  • Exclusive invitations to your program events/milestones (e.g. graduations)
  • Free upgrade to attend VIP Reception at your Gala, if they buy event tickets
  • Annual report, if they wouldn’t ordinarily receive it
  • Recognize your Sustainers in your annual report/website/email communication
  • If you do donor profiles, make sure to highlight one Sustainer
  • Thank you calls from board members once a year – particularly if their giving is maybe below the level board members usually call to thank donors

You can highlight some or all these benefits when you’re soliciting new Sustainers.  You might consider reminding current Sustainers if you haven’t told them this or you’re instituting new ideas. 

Don’t spend a lot of money, but incent them to give and to strengthen their connection/knowledge about your work.