This was also published as part of an interview for the Nonprofit Leadership Summit. 

MT: Hey, everybody. Welcome. This is Mazarine Treyz of Wild Woman Fundraising and I am so pleased today to be interviewing Erica Waasdorp, who wrote Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant, and who is also the president of A Direct Solution. She will be teaching at our Nonprofit Leadership Summit.

Erica, can you give some people an idea of the kind of monthly giving campaigns you’ve worked on and why they should listen to you about monthly gifts?

EW: I have worked on small and large monthly giving campaigns. I’ve been fundraising for more than 20 years, and I started fundraising for International Fund for Animal Welfare, where I took on their monthly giving program that was like 170,000 monthly donors a year. So that was $13 million. So that was huge. I really learned a lot of the advantages and also learned the pitfalls, what you should do and what not to do.

Since then, I’ve worked with organizations that have 30,000. The smallest one started with 15 monthly donors after the first campaign. So one other organization, it’s a rescue, they just broke through 100. Another one has like 325. So it’s all over the map, really, and the key with monthly giving is that you have so many small donors in your donor base, and a lot of them are not necessarily your big check writers. So giving monthly is a real big advantage for them. It’s a way for the donors to make a difference to your organization, and it’s just going to generate a lot of money.

For example, one of my clients that has 300 monthly donors, it generates $95,000 a year for them. Three hundred monthly donors generate $95,000. So when I present these numbers, people are like wow, that is huge. The average monthly gift, do you know what that is? It’s $24 a month. So that’s a mid-level donor. That’s $288 a year. So it’s really worth it, and I find so many organizations that are really – and again, I know the resources. You need to obviously look at what you can handle. But to have this kind of power with small donors is just really, really tremendous. It’s just even a small $5 or $10 a month makes a lot of difference to small to mid-sized organizations.

So I think once an organization understands the power of that, they see, wow. We can invest in it, and the reality is when I started monthly giving programs, it was only direct mail. It was only telemarketing because those were the tools that were out there. Well, since then, we’ve had email. We have web. We have face to face. I mean, there’s a lot of other tools out there that have actually made our lives as fundraisers a lot easier.

MT: Have you ever worked with a small nonprofit that’s never done monthly giving campaigns before?

EW: Yes. What I did is we looked at their online donation page and created a recurring only page. They have the tool. They had a database that they were able to create that in just a couple of minutes. We just created a recurring only page, and then we created an email only campaign that we sent to their volunteers, board members, staffers, and their donors.

They had set a really low expectation of 25 donors. This was a children’s organization. So they had 25 donors, and the first email blast we generated 39 monthly donors.

MT: Wow.

EW: That was terrific. So 39 monthly donors, well, that could be worth $10,000. So the key with this monthly giving is you have to start asking. You just have to start.

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