If you’ve seen or heard me present, you know that I stress the importance of making one person responsible for your monthly donor program, no matter what size the organization is! As you’re the fundraiser, this is most likely going to be YOU.
Now, that does not mean that you have to do everything but it’s absolutely ESSENTIAL that one person oversees all of the moving parts and is held accountable.
That sounds like a huge responsibility, doesn’t it? Yes it is, but I don’t make this recommendation lightly. There’s a reason for it. Because if you don’t, things can go horribly wrong! And before you know it, the program you worked so hard to build, is diminishing.
I’ve seen this happen with numerous organizations, small and large. Monthly donors are very intricate with other fundraising programs and probably touch most of other departments, online, banks, finance, computer specialists, database, marketing, communication and so on…
Let me give you a few examples of what I mean. These are case studies based upon real live organizations.
Example 1: Missing information
You’re the new development director at an organization where its finance department is tracking revenue, opens the mail and receive checks and bank and credit card information. They also receive information about the credit cards that declined. But they just file it away.
You go about your business and are starting to implement some new ideas to grow your program but you don’t realize that some of your monthly donors’ payments have not come in for months.
Your finance department does give you an update every month of all donations coming in, but nobody reconciled it with the number of donors and monthly donors entered and processed that month. And because the finance folks just had a change in staff, nobody thought to tell you about these declined card reports that come in every month. The reality is that nobody purposely leaves out information but they just don’t necessarily realize you may need it.
There’s a simple solution. As you’re responsible for fundraising, I recommend you take charge of your monthly donor program, identify those people inside and outside of your organization who are ‘touching monthly donors’ and create a simple process flow chart. This will help you understand what happens with your monthly donors, where the information comes in and who needs to know what, which coding is being used and you’ll immediately see what’s missing in the flow and you can fix things before it’s too late.
Example 2: No clarity on who checks what
I see this happen an awful lot too. The data-entry is done outside of the organization by an outsourced data-entry company and the IT folks receive updates every week. You’re the new person in the development department and part of your role is to grow the monthly donor program. But you don’t have access to these updates and you don’t really know how many donations and monthly donors come in every month. Any fundraising reports were developed by your IT department and they’ve just had some turnover so there seem to be some holes and you can’t get a clear answer on how the program is really doing. There’s no report that shows credit cards that are declining or not going through for some reason. They thought your department was looking at things and your boss that they were checking on things and following up. There was no clarity on who was in charge.
So, the first thing you do is create a flow chart so you know how it all flows. You start by asking the basic questions necessary to fill in the blanks. What happens when a new monthly donor comes in online? What happens when a new monthly donor comes in through the mail or via telemarketing. Any other channels? What are the codes being used for each type? What happens when someone drops out? Who sends out thank you letters and what do they look like? What materials are in place? What happens where. How are selections done and created and which checks and balances are in place to verify that what we think comes in is actually being reported?
This all sounds like very logical, doesn’t it? But oftentimes it isn’t because departments are busy and focused on their own goals.
Trust me, if you create this little process chart, you’ll see exactly who does what so you can identify what is missing and what may need fixing. I’ve been doing this for a very long time and I’ve seen the most amazing things go wrong, where we thought coding was in place, it wasn’t and it takes the one person in charge of the program to identify it and fix it and grow.
There will always be challenges with monthly giving but knowing who is charge of the program will help provide clarity to everybody in the organization and it will help you make sure that all moving parts are moving in the same direction and everybody is aware of what needs to happen where.
Also, what I have found by working with small to large organizations over the past 20+ years is that you may be the only one who knows the tremendous impact monthly donors have. So you have to help educate everybody else in your organization. Say you’re trying to implement a new process for monthly donors who are lapsing, quantify their value by annualizing their monthly gift. Trust me, all of a sudden people start taking notice.
Say your organization loses 200 monthly donors every month, giving $23 on average and you don’t do anything to reengage them, that means you’re losing $55,200 a year. Now that’s a lot of money to lose, right? That’s also too much money not to try something new to bring them back. Just think about it. And you’re in charge so you can make it happen!
If you’d like to receive a sample flow chart to help you identify the processes in your organization or if you have a few specific questions about your monthly giving program, just contact the Monthly Giving Help Line . It only takes one extra new monthly donor to pay for it! You can’t beat the price.
Or you can schedule some time for an Audit to look at your overall program.
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