Part IV: Using Telefundraising for a Monthly Conversion Program
Using the phone to turn current supporters into monthly donors has proven to be one of the most effective channels for this type activity. Monthly supporters are some of the most loyal and profitable donors for many organizations. Once a part of a monthly program, and ensuring regular stewardship, the majority of these donors stay active for 5 to 7 years or even longer, many increasing their monthly gift amount on a regular basis, and even making special One-Time Gifts on top of their monthly support. The biggest challenge is in motivating them to make that first step and agree to be a monthly donor.
The first step:
Is ensuring you are talking to the right donors. The natural assumption is that 2 or 3+ year consecutive donors, who make multiple gifts, are the best group to contact. Although these segments can provide some good results, the best prospects to join a monthly support program are “New to file” or “Newly Reactivated” donors.
At this point the difficult task of getting these supporters to make that very first direct response gift was a success. Many of these donors will give again without hesitation and continue to make multiple gifts for a long period of time because they believe in the cause and feel they are making a difference.
Many of these supporters are already committed and planning to give again, it seems a logical conclusion to simply have these supporters become a member of a monthly sustainer program before they become accustomed to only giving by mail.
This enables the donor to have pre-authorized manageable donation amounts charged to their credit card. It seems like it’s a natural progression for a supporter to make, so why is this not an easy sell?
One of the main issues lies in the stigma many people have when they hear the term “monthly”. In North America, consumers are inundated with monthly payments charges. So when a charity contacts them and suggests becoming a monthly supporter, many loyal donors, who are already planning to continue their support, quickly make the association with all their other monthly payments and develop an aversion to anything with the word “monthly” in the title.
The key to overcoming this mindset is to promote the benefits and advantages of a monthly supporter AND distance a monthly donation or monthly support program from all the other types of monthly obligations the prospect may have.
The focus of a monthly conversion ask needs to move away from focusing on how a monthly program has low monthly donations and emphasize how switching to a monthly program allows the same donation amount to have a greater impact.
The monthly support program needs to be positioned as a “different or better way of showing your support”. Supporters and donors give from the heart, not because of facts, figures and statistics. Although it is important to mention that monthly gifts are meant to be small and manageable, the vast majority of donors want to understand the impact the monthly support will have for the cause they support.
It is essential to ensure a supporter understands that with a monthly donation program they are always in complete control. Explaining that the donations can be changed, lowered or stopped at any time is vital. Making sure a supporter understands this unique trait of the program goes a long way in helping them to feel more comfortable and helps make it easier to make that first step.
The vast majority of monthly supporters, acquired through the phone, stay as an active supporter for many years, so only a small number actually cancel their support, but just knowing they have that option, and that they are empowered, helps supporters feel more comfortable with this method of giving.
The last key to success for a monthly conversion program is to promote the monthly support as easy and convenient, because the donations are pre-authorized. Many donors have busy lives and responding to a pledge is not always their first priority. Many supporters are attracted to a monthly program because the pre-authorized donations mean they can give automatically, with no need to remember to mail anything in or write a cheque. In today’s fast paced world, making something easier and more convenient is always an advantage.
The long term value and ROI of a telephone monthly conversion program makes it one of the most profitable ways to use the phone. It is crucial to ensure you have the right approach, because each new monthly donor adds a tremendous value to your direct response program.