Cultivating Monthly Sustainers

Key objectives of cultivation are to increase donor retention and maximize donor lifetime value. A monthly sustainer program not only accomplishes both of those goals but also lowers your cost of fundraising - netting more revenue for your mission.


Becoming a monthly sustainer is also more convenient for both the donor and your organization. A regular donor fills out a remit slip every time a donation is made, which then has to be processed and entered by your staff. A monthly sustainer fills out a one-time remit slip with either credit card or electronic bank transfer (EBT) information, and the donation is processed automatically each month. Your organization also saves money by removing monthly donors from certain mailings (but not
all
of them).

You never stop communicating with your monthly donors. You still need to steward your sustainers; otherwise, they will just feel like an automatic transaction every month. Newsletters, quarterly/annual reports, event invites, VIP tours and special thank-you events are great ways to keep your sustainers engaged and show them your appeciation. Your monthly donors are also a prime group to survey and get feedback about how your organization is doing.

So, which donors are strong sustainer prospects? The answer is in your database. Looking at recency, frequency and monetary (RFM) history, your organization can pinpoint which donors should receive a monthly sustainer appeal. Even though not every recipient of your appeal will become a monthly donor right away, many will still respond with a gift and are now aware that your organization has a special monthly giving program.

For donors that are already part of your monthly giving program, mail an annual upgrade appeal. If you are stewarding your sustainers, they will likely increase their monthly gift to your organization. Once a donor has joined your sustainer program, continue to communicate with and cultivate them. Sustainers make great prospects for your board, volunteer opportunities and peer-to-peer fundraising. Clearly, they love your organization and are committed to you, so get them involved in other areas.

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