You ask, Kim answers! This is our “Dear Kim” blog, where our fundraising experts give all their inside tips, tricks and handy dandy advice in response to fundraising, peer to peer, events and crowdfunding questions submitted by YOU! This is part 2 of our answers to sustainer questions! Read along to get all the juicy insights! And don’t forget to email firstname.lastname@example.org with your own fundraising questions.
We were analyzing our donor lists, and noticed there is a considerable number of people who continually give at our nonprofit’s special events, but who are not yet part of our sustainer program. Do you have any tips for how to get these people to sign up as sustainers?
More than just events
First of all, it’s great that you are taking a hard look at your donors and seeking out potential opportunities. Good job! As for moving your special event donors into the sustainer realm, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions:
- Are these donors giving directly to you, or are they giving to an individual who is fundraising on your behalf? Knowing the difference here is key in how you proceed with these donors. If the donor is giving to a fundraiser on your behalf, the donor’s relationship is with that individual, and not your organization. Before asking those donors to become sustainers, you will want to build a direct relationship with them.
- Why is this donor giving specifically to this special event? Is it because it’s at a specific time of the year? Does it fund a specific cause or aspect of your mission? Discovering this information will help you to know how to reach out to these donors in a way that will resonate with them.
- How are these donors giving to the special event? Do they always write a personal check? Consider the donor’s method of payment to inform how you can get them sustaining in the way that works best for them. If they always pay by check, try to target them through direct mail. However, if you have the ability to take recurring gifts online, then be sure to direct them to your website in your mail correspondences so they know about the option to sign up for a recurring gift with their credit card or ACH.
We want to reach out to our sustainers for an additional year-end giving ask, however we aren’t quite sure how to go about doing that. Our sustainers already give a lot during the year, so we want to make sure it doesn’t come off as though we are taking advantage of their generosity. Do you have any tips for how to come up with an appropriate additional year-end ask that won’t scare away our sustainers?
Asking too much
Don’t worry, it’s not too much to have an additional ask at the end of the year. When reaching out to sustainers for a year-end gift, the first thing you should do is acknowledge their ongoing support and thank them for their sustained giving. Then, segment your sustainers from your other donor lists if they are not already. This is important in making sure you are delivering the right message to the right audience.
When creating your ask, there are several things you can do to soften the message:
- Offer sustainers the option of giving an extra gift instead of setting it as an expectation.
- Mention how the extra year-end funds of the previous year made an impact on your mission, and give specific examples, like how last year, X year-end dollars went toward a toy drive that gave christmas gifts to Y number of children.
- Remind sustainers that an extra year-end donation is also an opportunity to get in a final tax-deductible gift for that year.
- Tell a good story! You could write about how a fellow sustainer stepped up at year-end and really made an impact for your cause.
- Provide sustainer-specific matching opportunities. Offer them to your sustainers and let them know that it is a special match offered only for those who support your organization on an ongoing basis.This can also help make them feel like they are part of a special club.
Also, don’t be afraid to make your additional year-end ask message fun and engaging. Send your segmented sustainer lists content they will enjoy by mixing it up with blog posts, quizzes and fun facts about what you have been able to do over the course of the year. Think about your year-end messaging as the grand finale where you showcase the important work donors helped you achieve for the whole year.
Our nonprofit is in the process of moving our sustainers to ACH transactions. My question is: how do we motivate sustainer giving for this in direct mail letters?
Stressed about direct mail
It is great to hear that your organization is focusing on this effort! ACH (Automated Clearing House, also commonly referred to as electronic funds) is one of the best methods for recurring giving because it removes the hassle-factor of paper checks and the friction often experienced with credit card expirations. For ACH transactions, keep in mind that this is not just a direct mail method, but is something that can happen on all channels. Here are some tips for moving sustainers to ACH transactions through direct mail:
- Mail an ACH sign-up form along with the direct mail piece for sustainers to send back to you
- Emphasize how quick and easy it is to sign up online, and include an insert with instructions
- Provide ALL possible ways for donors to join through direct mail: a link to an online form, a phone number to call, an address to mail the first check to, etc.
- Incentivize: drive sustainer giving with something better than a one-time gift
- Invite your sustainers to “join a special club”
- Follow up on direct mail with printed sustainer newsletters
Remember when setting your goals for the campaign that direct mail can be one of the most difficult ways to get donors to take an action. The key is to give your direct mail recipients as much information as you can, making it easy for them to do what you are asking of them.