Grow your monthly donor pool, now!

Do you want to build a stable and predictable stream of income to help fund your programs? Do you want to provide your donors with a convenient way to give? Focusing on sustainer conversion can help you achieve these goals by growing a strong base of monthly supporters. So, start now!

The most likely prospects

Identifying your most likely monthly donor prospects will help you focus your efforts and prioritize. The best prospects for monthly giving conversion are:

  1. Newly acquired donors
    These donors are excited about the organization. They were motivated to give for some reason. If you are able to quickly reassure them that their generosity is making a difference, they are likely to give again. I recommend contacting newly-acquired donors with a sustainer offer within 30-45 days of their first gift—but only after you have properly thanked them for the gift they already gave.
  2. Committed donors who have given 2-6 gifts in the last 12 months
    These donors are already giving, so why not provide them with a convenient way to support the organization without having to think about whether or not they have already fulfilled their intent to give. Be sure to consider the ask amount carefully. You want to ask for a monthly gift that would be comfortable for the donor, and an upgrade from what they are giving. We will get to that in a moment.

The method

While you should always have an option for the donor to make a monthly gift online or in the mail, the most effective way to convert these donors is by talking to them. Pick up the phone or hire a fundraising-experienced telemarketing agency. You can also assign a member of the development staff to call. The next best thing is to develop an online strategy specifically-geared towards monthly giving. This can include a targeted email strategy, a post-donation lightbox, remarketing and social media.
The more personalized you can be, the better. Use affirmational copy in your communication, for example:


Because of you, lives are changing here in XX OUR AREA.

Your generous support over the last few months has helped us reach out to people like Mary. Mary has two small children. Her husband died two years ago and now she works two jobs just to get by. Without the extra food she receives, made possible by generous supporters like you, she would have to go hungry just to feed her growing children.

There are countless stories, just like hers, that make me grateful for people like you in this world. Thank you for your support. The need is great and your donations go to good use! In fact every $1 multiplies to provide $12 worth of food to a hungry neighbor.

We invite you to become a monthly sustainer. A donation of $$$ per month would do so much to help us feed the XXX,XXX hungry people in our community. If you would like to donate monthly, please go to WEBPAGE or return the reply form today in the enclosed postage-paid envelope.

We are grateful for your generous support,

Executive Director Signature

Mary’s story is made up, but represents clients who are serviced by an organization that provides food as I used in this example.

You may have noticed my suggestion for including a postage-paid envelope, which will make it even easier for the donor to respond. I also recommend setting up a special landing page focused specifically on monthly giving.

The ask

As I noted above, this needs careful consideration and should be based on the donor’s prior giving history.

  • For a new donor, ask for an amount that is less than their first gift. If they gave $35 as their first gift, you may ask for a $20 monthly donation. Even if they landed on $10/month, that is still $120 for the year.
  • For an existing donor, the amount you ask for (when multiplied by 12 months of giving) should exceed the donor’s current annual giving. For example, if they have given $500 in the last year (which is an average of $41.66/month), you could ask for $60/month which would upgrade their giving to $720/year.

What methods have you used to successfully convert donors to monthly givers? Let us know how we can help.

By: Denise Lynn Lavollay, CFRE