3 keys for a sustainer program

More nonprofits are turning to sustainer programs lately, and they are finding them to be especially helpful for fundraising and even visibility.

During the 2013 Blackbaud Conference for Nonprofits, Nicola Bach of Blackbaud outlined several of the benefits coming from sustainer programs. She explained that that 12 gifts of $10 or $15 or $25 given in one year is more annual revenue than the majority of single gift donors (those who give individual, one-off gifts) would give in that same period. Bach said the keys to success with a sustainer program are:

  • Education. Everyone on the fundraising team, as well as staff in donor communications, marketing agencies, and eventually finance, must be educated about the benefits of sustaining gift programs.
  • Measurements. Long-term value becomes the standard measure for success for the direct marketing program. Using campaign measurements of success or annual net revenue might not result in a justifiable return for a new, growing sustainer program.
  • Long-Term Plan. Build the program with the intent that this is the new way to fundraise and grow the donor population to return the highest net per donor with the lowest cost to raise a dollar. Know that it will take time and it will take a consistent, steady commitment to growth. Dipping a toe in the water of monthly giving and only acquiring a few hundred donors and then having to manage, fulfill, and support the program can lead to frustration.