November is almost here. Many of you are probably working on your #GivingTuesday campaigns, or you may have other giving days you’re focused on. And of course everybody is on board with sending out several emails in the month of December.

The question always comes up: Should we ask for monthly donors in our giving day emails and social media messaging?

Well, if it were up to me, I’d say: Yes, absolutely! Try to get as many sustainers as you possibly can, but it does depend on where you are in your giving days “evolution.”

If you’re expecting that your giving day emails could generate a lot of new donors, because you’ve got that wonderful video that everybody would love to share. Or if you have a generous donor match, where the donor has indicated that it’s only aimed at new donations or is restricted for a specific program. Or if you’re not doing many email asks during the year, and this is your first time doing a #GivingTuesday campaign.

If you’re like any of the above, I recommend you start with single donations first and use the monthly giving ask as part of your welcome email series later. I also suggest you go with an all-out monthly ask in January to get that important second gift and ongoing commitment, especially from any new donors you’ve brought on during November/December.

Monthly giving is always a harder sell than asking for single donations. You’re asking for a monthly commitment after all. But, always build in the “make-this-a-recurring-gift” or “make-this-monthly” option on your giving page. Then, regardless of what you’re asking for in your emails, the donors can decide to make that monthly giving commitment. You have nothing to lose by doing this, and it’s certainly not going to impact your open or click-through rates.

If you have a robust email program now, and you’re looking at #GivingTuesday (or another giving day) as a nice additional boost, you can be a bit more daring and consider asking for a monthly gift as part of the emails leading up to that day/during the day.

You could consider a monthly ask for the first email and then a single ask for the email to the non-opens later that day. Or you can ask for recurring as the first option on your giving page (If you can do it).

Here are a few examples of what happens for these organizations when you click on the donate now button:

For the Environmental Defense Fund, monthly is first, and you actually have to click away to a single-gift option.


Credit: Environmental Defense Fund




Credit: Habitat for Humanity


You bet they have tested this, and they know it works.

You can also see that both organizations are not asking for huge amounts. Make the entry level for any donor on #GivingTuesday the lowest you can. That will help generate more donations in the long run.
The decision on single gifts versus monthly focus also depends on how many emails you’re planning to send as part of the giving day campaign—how many email names you have and how easy your donation process is.
If you’re starting to dabble in email asks to begin with, ask for one-time gifts. If you’re more mature, build in a sustainer ask in at least part of the campaign.

The more you ask, the more monthly donors you’ll generate, the decision what to do on giving days is totally yours!

First posted in NonProfitPro Today on October 30, 2017