No good reason for no sustainers

March 23, 2015       The NonProfit Times      

Some fundraisers say it all the time: “Sustainers aren’t right for my organization.” The excuses are myriad, from privacy concerns to having tried once to push a sustainer program to a focus on short-term ROI to a mission management believes don’t suit a monthly donor program.

Those are some reasons not to push a monthly sustainer program, but they’re not good reasons. Anne Morrison, Paige Grainger and Sue Adams of Target Analytics shared some good reasons to start a monthly sustainer program with attendees of the Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation 2015 Washington Nonprofit Conference.

A Target Analytics analysis showed a median 4 percent decrease in donors giving single gifts between 2012 and 2013, and a 1 percent increase in donors giving recurring gifts. On a longer timeline, from 2009 to 2013, that 4 percent decrease held, but there was a median 18 percent increase in donors giving recurring gifts. Here are a few more reasons to jump on the bandwagon.

  • Sustainers are one of the most valuable segments due to compound giving. Their multiple, small gifts often add up to two to four times the revenue given by donors who give higher amounts but less frequently.
  •  Sustainers are young. Monthly giving programs work well for younger people because they’re giving what they have in their wallet or what they would spend on a cup of coffee.
  •  Sustainers have a higher lifetime value due to their high retention rate. Signing up once and not worrying about renewing is convenient and attractive for many donors.
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