Stewarding your event goers into monthly donors

The money raised by galas or an annual walk help keep many nonprofits afloat to fight another day. However, just because someone bought a ticket doesn’t mean they’re going to give again.

The point is, at the end of the day, nonprofits are asking their donors for that next gift in no time. You’ll get a donation, sometimes even a large amount, and celebrate for a bit, but, eventually, another campaign will come around and you’ll ask again.

This cycle continues.

Ask after ask.

Year after year.

It’s exhausting because there’s little predictability. It’s difficult to forecast how your nonprofit will do in the coming months. And it’s hard to plan ahead. A monthly giving program can help with this.

At Harness, we believe in making giving a part of our everyday lives. Everyone should feel empowered to give. More than that, giving should be easy, and stewarding your event attendees is a great way to grow a recurring giving program.

The old means of giving are, well, old.

It’s time for a new mindset.

“Traditional” means of giving are impersonal and complicated.  They are transactional and give donors the “here they come asking for money again, even though I gave last year” vibes.

Here’s a very sad, but real scenario:

The development team crafts a yearly event campaign (in-person or digital). They hope people will buy a ticket and then their fingers are further crossed that the donors will give again when asked. After the campaign is closed, the development team goes back to the drawing board to plan the next one without much thought to those who gave. Perhaps, a general thank you email/campaign wrap up is sent.

But it doesn’t take much effort to make a world of difference. A simple, personalized “Thank you” message or a “You helped us raise [insert dollar amount here] to help feed the children!” could go much farther in showing the impact their single donation did.

According to a white paper prepared for the John Templeton Foundation by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley,

“ Research suggests that gratitude inspires people to be more generous, kind, and helpful (or “prosocial”); strengthens relationships.” Expressing your gratitude for your donors is an example of stewardship.

Stewardship is the process of building a deeper relationship and loyalty with existing donors by showing gratitude for their support.

In our own experience, quality stewardship does in fact keep them coming back.

Some of the traditional tools are ones that you can still, and should use, with monthly giving programs. Impact posts on blogs and social media, newsletters, and text message campaigns are all incredibly useful.

However, with one-off gifts, there is always the underlying intention of an ask. Any interaction is tainted with the knowledge that at some point the interaction will, in all likelihood, lead to an ask.

This is a key difference between one-off giving and a monthly program. 

See, a monthly giving program is more than just another box to check in your toolbox.

It’s a mindset shift.

It’s you and your team deciding that you’re not going to be a transactional fundraising shop anymore. When you move from one-off donations to a monthly program you’re moving to a more relationship based approach and, because of this, you’re able to better focus on the donor experience.  You don’t have to worry about asking time and time again since the donations are coming in in an automated fashion and you can count on it month after month. As a result, you’ll be able to develop a dependable recurring revenue stream, which helps take the pressure off hitting a number by chasing individual donors. The question becomes “how do I create a great donor experience,” rather than “how do I drive this donation?” 

It’s a subtle but powerful change.

Think of how Netflix operates. You’re subscribed to their service. They don’t charge you for each piece of content — though they do keep raising their prices. What they do is they release more and more content to keep you delighted and subscribed. 

You can do the same to your givers. Let’s take a look at how this might look different within the context of stewarding donors as your event.

Imagine a gala with recurring giving

First things first, no need for them to buy a ticket. They’re already giving, why not just give them tickets for free.

This alone creates a massive shift. You’re no longer reaching out to a donor saying “please spend this money so I can ask you to give anymore.”

Instead, you’re saying “hey, we’ve got this great event and we’d love to see you there, and, by the way, the tickets are attached.”

It’s a gift.

It’s a surprise.

It’s a memorable magical moment, at least when it comes to moments of the nonprofit gala ticketing sort. It becomes a celebration of your donors and of the cause you all care so deeply about.

All your interactions — texts, emails, social media posts, etc. — are impacted by this.

Now, when you communicate with a donor, there is no longer the underlying fear that an ask is about to come. It’s all about creating a great donor experience.

And if you do ask, you can do it in a more natural way. Perhaps, you just mention a new way of giving, such as with round-ups. And, if they don’t bite, it’s not that big of a deal because they’re still giving monthly.

New tools available to you when you run a  monthly giving program

Another one of the great benefits of a monthly giving program are the tools you’re able to leverage to cultivate a happy donor base. You’re able to take advantage of the same metrics that companies that operate on a SaaS/subscription model, such as Netflix, use to grow.

These metrics include:

Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR), which measures the amount of monthly revenue coming in from donations;
Average Revenue Per Donor, which helps you identify where your donor fits within your donor base and what messaging might work best for them;
Donor acquisition cost (DAC), which is how much you spend in order to acquire a donor;
DAC payback period, which is how long you need to keep a donor around to offset what the acquisition cost;
Retention, which measures how many donors stick around across a given time period;
Churn, which measures how many leave across a given time period; and
Donor lifetime value, which is an estimation of the total value a donor will bring. 

By having a platform that can help you track and measure these metrics across your entire organization, and individual giving campaigns, you can find ways to expand and grow your monthly recurring revenue. You’ll be able to plan further in advance and focus on finding ways to create more long term value for your donors and creating even more of a positive impact on your cause.

This is the power of what we like to call Subscription Philanthropy.

Refresh your Special Event Portfolio with this webinar:

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