A Fundraiser’s Journey: New Kid on the Block

Kelly Updike for PCNRC, A Fundraiser’s Journey seriesKelly pic

There’s this new thing called a sustained giving program. Several nonprofit colleagues, including PBS39, are offering this to their members and donors. This is when you ask members or regular donors to give a certain amount of money each month, say $5 which is about the same as a Grande Mocha at Starbucks, via credit card auto-pay.

According to Mary Male, PBS39’s director of individual giving, the station began the program in 2012 to increase donor retention. Mary knows her organization’s data, saying only about 12 percent of revenue is retained annually from PBS39 pledge drives. “In contrast,” she said, “the monthly giving program has seen a revenue retention rate of 86 percent from year to year. How has this helped us? Over the past two years, our overall revenue retention rate has increased from 49 percent to 62 percent.”

Mary listed donor benefits to this program:

  • Hassle-free, automatic monthly donations
  • Instead of giving one lump sum every year, a small donation each month eases budget constraints
  • Annual statements provided for seamless tax preparation
  • Flexibility to change or suspend the donation at any time
  • Ongoing membership continues month-to-month and year to year until the donor opts out
  • Satisfaction in continual support without the worry of membership renewal deadlines

And of course there are benefits to PBS39:

  • Increased revenue and donor retention
  • No need to send out appeals to sustaining members to renew their support annually which saves on costs such as printing and postage
  • Steady cash flow

With issues that require ongoing attention, Mary says:

  • “Credit card expiration” – Either use a credit card expiration date update service for a fee or contact the donor, which has proved to be challenging.
  • Closed bank accounts – This happens far less frequently.
  • Donor education – Some donors do not realize that we would like this to be an ongoing monthly donation. Some donors think it is simply a 12-month payment plan. We feel that if we can educate donors better on the front end, they would be less likely to feel they are done after 12 months.”

Many thanks to Mary for sharing this PBS39 success story!

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.

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