A few weeks ago, NonProfit Pro shared an interesting NACHA case study on the long-term retention of those donors who give automatically through their bank account, also called EFT, Direct Debit, Direct Payment via ACH or automatic bank withdrawal. (Note, for the rest of this post, I’ll refer to this as EFT.)

So you may say, “Why is this important if we only offer monthly donors via credit or debit card now?”

The answer is because if you can have donors give automatically through their bank account, you don’t have to worry about those “pesky” card expiration dates or card declines ever again! In other words, your monthly donor retention rates go up!

The second answer is that the fees are typically much lower than with card payments.

So, check with your merchant account or donor-base provider and see if they now offer the option to handle EFT. More and more systems have started offering this over the past few years.
Once you have it set up, you can start generating monthly donors through EFT. There are four ways of doing this:

1. When a donor’s card expires or declines. You’re able to talk to the donor and tell them that the EFT option allows more funds to go to the children/animals/clients you serve, so their monthly gift goes further. As you know, testimonials work well, and here is no exception. Use the message from a donor who is happy about more money going to support your cause and how easy it is.

If you’re not able to reach the monthly donor by phone, include the message in a link to your monthly donor renewal page and include the option in the letter to ask for updated information.

2. During an upgrade request. Whether it’s via phone, email or letter, include the EFT option and see what happens. What do you have to lose by converting them to EFT? NOTHING.

3. With a special appeal aimed at existing credit/debit card monthly donors. Again, use the savings message to entice monthly donors to convert. It’s also a great way to thank them for their ongoing support.

4. If you offer a monthly check reminder option. Some organizations (especially those with in-house mail rooms) send monthly reminders to those who’d like to write checks. The retention of that group is lowest (usually between 60 percent and 75 percent of donors send in their monthly gift every month). But once you convert them to give monthly through EFT, this goes up to 90 percent or more. Including a little buck slip with the savings message and how you can use their monthly check to get started is a cheap way to convert them.

Just something to think about if you have a more mature program. The more we can do about those credit card expirations or declines, the higher your monthly donor retention and the healthier your monthly donor program!

 This post was previously published on Nonprofit Pro