The Two Biggest Monthly Giving Mistakes Nonprofits Make

Posted on Sep 14, 2015 in Case Studies, Recurring giving

launching a new series focused on the biggest fundraising mistakes nonprofits make.

To kick off this series, I asked my friend Erica Waasdorp, author of Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant to share her thoughts on the biggest mistakes nonprofits make when it comes to monthly giving. Her guest post is below:


“I see nonprofits make two major mistakes that really prevent them from growing their monthly giving programs to its fullest potential. They go hand-in-hand.

The number one top mistake nonprofits make with monthly giving is NOT PREPARING!

Many nonprofits have little staff and they’re spread very thin. Time is at a premium. I get that. That’s why I recommend thinking through the various options and creating the basics. Then, you’re ready to start asking.

Sadly, what happens a lot is: organizations start promoting…

Then, everything comes crashing down because they were not prepared! Often, the program comes to a screeching halt… and you’ll hear things like:

  • Oops, we forget to test the process first…
  • Now what? …The monthly donor clicked the button and …Shoot! …We did not write the thank you letter. Drop everything because we have to do that.
  • OMG! …The monthly donation confirmation email is not showing the recurring giving option. We have to fix that.
  • Help?… The donor calls and wants to join the monthly giving program but the volunteer answering the phone has never heard of it so the donor hangs up.
  • Yikes!… This donor wants to give via AMEX, we did not offer that on the form.
  • Technical question…’ve got them via the online donation page,  but how do we process them every month? Is that an automatic?
  • .. The system spits out a monthly donation letter, but should we send that?
  • The finance person calls because she does not know how to report these monthly donations. Or she’s not reporting them at all and you can’t find them in your reports.

And the list goes on and on.

Monthly giving knows many ‘moving parts’. You have to pay attention to a mix of technical, system, financial and promotional areas. Probably more so than with any other type of fundraising program I know. So, think through the whole process and work through the donor base/online giving option, recognition, cultivation and reactivation piece. If you spend just a little bit of time in the beginning, you can eliminate so many of the oops, helps, yikes’s later on. Trust me!

(Check out the free Monthly Giving Starter Kit. It’s important to have everything ready to go before you launch. While marketing and promotion still requires a lot of work, it’s not nearly as much as doing the start stop start stop routine that’s often so frustrating and makes it tough for organizations to really focus on it.

So, Prepare and start Asking.

The number two mistake nonprofits make with monthly giving is NOT ASKING !

I still see way too many organizations that are not asking for monthly donations. Yes, they might have added the monthly donor option to their donation page. But that’s where it ends.

They never include a monthly ask in their appeals, mail or email. They’re afraid to pick up the phone and have a conversation with the donor asking them to join the monthly donor program.

Monthly giving is no different from other fundraising. The number one reason why donors join your monthly giving program is because you ask them. But, here’s the reality. Monthly giving asks are not a once a year thing. You must really focus on it and make it easy for the donor to join. You must ask continuously and you must honor the donor’s preferred amounts, no matter how small.

Monthly donors are little giants that are ‘asleep’ in your donor base (hence my book Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant) . You have to wake them up! You have to tell them how easy it is for them to make a difference to your organization. Share the benefits of giving monthly for them and you.  Use every medium you have available to ask them. If you start asking early and often, you’d have an amazing monthly donor program pretty soon!”

If you’d like to find out how to grow 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.

Sign up for my blog so you’ll receive future posts on monthly giving and tools as they’re developed.  And if you’re interested in finding out how to start or grow your monthly giving program, just contact me!