In the final installment of our monthly giving series, Erica is talking technology. She’s answering questions about:
- What goes on behind the scenes.
- What tools are needed.
- How can a small nonprofit afford them.
Our biggest challenge is setting up an online system that works. We do not want to take credit card numbers and use them every month. Can you recommend a system for us to use?
Erica Waasdorp (EW): There are so many great affordable systems now. Check your donor database system and see if they can meet your preferences. Network for Good is a great option.
Editor’s note: Network for Good makes it easy to set automatic monthly giving, and the all-in-one software includes built-in recurring donor email templates so you can easily stay in touch.
Should you set an “end date” on a donor’s monthly gift (e.g. 12 months), or should keep going until the donor wants to cancel it?
EW: Do NOT set an end date, ever! The donor does not know what you’d want them to put there. If the donor specifically says that they only wish to do it for a certain period (like 12 months), you can put in an end date the system for them. This is rare, though.
What’s the advantage of automatic credit card payments?
EW: If your organization offers a so-called “check-reminder program” (where you send a monthly envelope to get the monthly donation), you can expect the drop off rate to be high, on average 25%.
On the other hand, if monthly donors are paying by credit card, the drop off rate on average is 13% after one year. That statistic says it all! Not to mention saving time and money from not sending as much mail to get a gift the donor committed to.
We have a problem. When someone’s credit card cancels or expires, they drop off automatically. We have to reset it up. Is that our software?
EW: I’m not sure which system you use, but it sounds like that it’s the software. I recommend that you identify the people who drop off. Do you get some type of alert?
Sometimes, donors don’t realize they dropped off. A short email can encourage them to share the new information. If your system requires donors to update the information themselves, I recommend sending them an email with the link to go there. Make it easy for them to update their information.
Do you have a sample of a “your card has expired email or letter” you can share?
EW: Here’s a sample message you can use to develop your own message:
Email to Donor Whose Payment Did Not Come In
[With your logo/look, ideally sent by the person who is going to answer the call]
Thank you so much for your continued support as a [name of program] with your monthly gift of [$xxx] to [name of organization]. You truly make a difference to [focus of your programs]!
Unfortunately, it appears that your last payment did not go through for some reason. Maybe you changed your credit or debit card? Or your card expired? Please call me at [phone number xxxxxx] at your earliest convenience so that we can update your records. Or, send me an email at [email address] and let me know a convenient time to call you.
Thank you again for your support. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Manager[name of Program]
We’d like to thank Erica for sharing her insights and expertise with us. While her questions covered various topics, her answers can be boiled down into one important finding: Setting up and running a successful monthly giving program takes the right technology at the right time.