Why smart fundraisers love those low-dollar monthly donors

You know you want monthly donors.

How about low-dollar monthly donors? Like $5 a month?

You’ve probably heard the argument that it’s not worthwhile because the credit card fees eat too much of the donation. If you think that, read this post from
A Direct Solution, at 10 Reasons Why Small Monthly Donors Are Worth the Effort:

  1. You’re truly showing donor care. No gift is too small.
  2. You can upgrade small monthly donors to higher levels within the year.
  3. Even small monthly donors can leave you in their will.
  4. Recruitment fees for monthly donor fees are minimal.
  5. The finance fees are not that high. (Typically around 45¢ for a $5 donation.)
  6. If you annualize the value of that small monthly donor, it’s going to be $60 — $54.60 after fees.
  7. Many online systems allow the donor to pay for the fees, and some 70% of donors do this.
  8. The average monthly donor is $24 a month, so the $5-a-month givers are really more the outliers.
  9. Your response rate will go up if you ask for a lower amount.
  10. Typical monthly donors stay with you for five to seven years, and sometimes even longer.

Low-amount monthly giving is less common in the US than in most of the world, mainly because face-to-face (street) fundraising is less common here. It’s especially worth adding to your fundraising line-up if:

  • You’re doing face-to-face fundraising.
  • You’re doing event fundraising.
  • Your target donors are heavy on younger people (that is, below 50).

Don’t write off those low-dollar monthly donors. They’re worth your while.

Want help with building your monthly donor program or anything else in your fundraising? I’m available for free 25-minute coaching sessions. Just click here and directly schedule an online conversation with me or with Sean Triner.


Comments

2 responses to “Why smart fundraisers love those low-dollar monthly donors”

  1. The small monthly donors are definitely worth it. When our organization started up in 2000, many people came on as small monthly donors, $5, $10, $20, etc. With the $5 donors, you sometimes wonder if it’s worth cost of sending them the monthly newsletter, but we do it as a courtesy and because we know they enjoy the stories about the children their donations help. You just never know when they will increase their donations, and usually they do once they start receiving the newsletters and seeing the good that’s accomplished with their support. The good thing is that our small donors are so faithful and over the years most of them have increased their giving. One lady started giving in 2003 at $10 per month and eventually raised her giving to $30 where it has remained until she went into the nursing home a few months ago. Over the years she would occasionally call me to talk for a bit and then she would tell me that she had left us in her will and some day we’d receive a large gift from her. Well, last week we did receive a check for well over $150,000 from her family. We know that won’t happen with a good share of the donors who give small amounts because most give small amounts because they are seniors on a small fixed income, and that’s okay because they provide a stable monthly base. You still treat them with courtesy, thank them frequently for their faithful support, send cards now and then to let them know you appreciate them, and occasionally something like this will happen. I will miss talking to this sweet lady. Even if she had never been able to leave us in her will, I am grateful for the relationship we developed over the years. Moral of the story is… love your small monthly donors!

  2. The small monthly donors are definitely worth it. When our organization started up in 2000, many people came on as small monthly donors, $5, $10, $20, etc. With the $5 donors, you sometimes wonder if it’s worth cost of sending them the monthly newsletter, but we do it as a courtesy and because we know they enjoy the stories about the children their donations help. You just never know when they will increase their donations, and usually they do once they start receiving the newsletters and seeing the good that’s accomplished with their support. The good thing is that our small donors are so faithful and over the years most of them have increased their giving. One lady started giving in 2003 at $10 per month and eventually raised her giving to $30 where it has remained until she went into the nursing home a few months ago. Over the years she would occasionally call me to talk for a bit and then she would tell me that she had left us in her will and some day we’d receive a large gift from her. Well, last week we did receive a check for well over $150,000 from her family. We know that won’t happen with a good share of the donors who give small amounts because most give small amounts because they are seniors on a small fixed income, and that’s okay because they provide a stable monthly base. You still treat them with courtesy, thank them frequently for their faithful support, send cards now and then to let them know you appreciate them, and occasionally something like this will happen. I will miss talking to this sweet lady. Even if she had never been able to leave us in her will, I am grateful for the relationship we developed over the years. Moral of the story is… love your small monthly donors!

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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