How Can I Implement a Program That Sustains and Increases Giving?

A Quick Review

Last week we addressed a strategy used to help you improve your donor retention rates and increase your giving. By name this program is called sustained or monthly giving. It results in increasing donations by stimulating multiple gifts over a longer period of time in ways that tend to enhance both donor generosity and retention. In the last article I discussed sustained giving as a concept.

Helpful Recommendations

Now assuming that a non-profit organization wants to enhance their giving through a sustained giving program, the following are four recommendations to help you achieve that:

  1. Use a widespread approach to communication of your sustained giving program. As fundraising consultants, we recommend that our clients put it in and on everything. For example, if you have a newsletter, I recommend that you have a story about sustained giving. I would also use social media like Twitter and Facebook. Of course, I would also include it on your website and as a lead option on any pledge cards you use. Finally, I would also include it in direct mail pieces.
  2. Brand your sustained giving program by giving it a name. For example, donors to the program can be called sustainers. In addition, the program can be named after a long-time friend to the nonprofit organization who has been a consistent donor. This helps establish an identity for your program and therefore helps build awareness.
  3. Develop a creative perquisite program for sustained giving donors. In just about every area of Philanthropy, development officers develop creative packages for giving at certain levels or giving in certain ways. Not that people give primarily to receive perquisites, but providing a nice package of benefits is yet another reason for people to give. You have to treat your donors well and sustained givers should receive special attention. You must decide to what will they be invited? What premiums will you offer? These are just some of the benefits. For example, my son is a graduate of Notre Dame. For a gift at certain levels, I become eligible for athletic events and other activities. However, it’s not just the events that attracts donors like me, it is also the various things they do to keep me informed and engaged.
  4. Begin measuring the results of your sustained giving program. Some have said that nothing changes in an organization until it is measured. It is one thing to initiate a sustained giving program; it is quite another thing to make it worth your time, effort and expense. Setting goals and tracking results will no doubt help you to improve your fundraising results.

Measurements That Matter

To begin, we suggest measuring the following:

  • Total number of sustainers
  • Average annual gift of sustainers
  • Monthly income from sustainers
  • Categories of giving among sustainers, (# of gifts at various levels both monthly and annually)
  • Average length of sustainer giving (# of months they stay)
  • Annual attrition rate of sustainers
  • Number of sustainers added each month and each year
  • Number and frequency of communication with sustainers

Of course, there are many other strategies to help you refine your program, but these will get you going. To learn more about these and other strategies, please visit us at