Fundraising Strategy

July's Nonprofit Blog Carnival: A Guide to Monthly Giving

I'm the proud host of July's nonprofit blog carnival and this month we are looking at regular giving.

Monthly giving is the backbone of many individual giving programmes, but it can be hard to get right, especially in small charities . This month we'll be looking at how to acquire monthly givers, how to welcome them to your nonprofit and then how to look after them so they keep giving for many years.

Acquiring monthly givers and general advice

The main sources of recruiting monthly givers include:

  • Street fundraising
  • Door to door fundraising
  • Direct response television
  • Direct mail
  • Panels on trains and in washrooms
  • Asking your current supporters to sign up

The effectiveness and popularity of each method depends on where you are in the world and the budget you have available.

As acquisition becomes increasingly expensive it is important that fundraisers think creatively about recruiting new donors.

Pamela Grow shares advice on how to start up a monthly giving programme.

A Small Change on setting expectations for your programmes.

The Fundraising Authority with seven steps to launching a monthly giving program at your nonprofit.

Joanne Fritz at posts eight tips for keeping monthly giving simple.

Kunye Consulting with a view on regular giving from South Africa.

SOFII has a wealth of examples of great monthly giving campaigns and products. Here are a few of my favourites:

Welcome and thank you

Depending on the type of recruitment you use for regular givers, attrition can be up to 65 per cent in year one. That's why it is so important that you do everything you can to welcome your new donors and make them feel appreciated.

Read how WRVS reduced their first gift attrition by 40% by sending a simple, heartfelt and personalised postcard.

101 Fundraising on calculating retention and building a retention and development strategy.

mGive share how you can use mobile and text giving to build a regular giving community.


Once you've welcomed and thanked your donors, you need to think how you are going to build your communications programme to inspire your donors and make them glad they gave.

Stuart Glen shares a lovely story about how he received a personal thank you for his monthly gift to Child's i.

Over at Pamela Grow's blog, Lisa Sargent shares some thoughts on the importance of on-going communication with your regular donors and getting your back end systems working correctly.

The Clarification blog share seven ways to build rapport with your donors using creative thank you's.

The Nonprofit Consultant blog on how your regular givers are changing.

August's nonprofit blog carnival

Kivi Leroux Miller at Nonprofit Marketing Guide is hosting next month's carnival and the topic is "playing nice with others" so you can get more work done, and done effectively, in a nonprofit environment.

Thanks for reading July's carnival - do get in touch if you have any questions or comments.

P.S. If you want to become a “Friend of the Carnival” and receive emails twice a month with reminders about the Carnival from Joanne Fritz, the nonprofit guide at and manager of the carnival, you can sign up for the mailing list here. - See more at:
P.S. If you want to become a “Friend of the Carnival” and receive emails twice a month with reminders about the Carnival from Joanne Fritz, the nonprofit guide at and manager of the carnival, you can sign up for the mailing list here. - See more at:

P.S. You can become a "Friend of the Carnival" and sign up for regular updates from Joanne Fritz, the nonprofit guide at and manager of the carnival.

P.S. If you want to become a “Friend of the Carnival” and receive emails twice a month with reminders about the Carnival from Joanne Fritz, the nonprofit guide at and manager of the carnival, you can sign up for the mailing list here. - See more at:

5000 donors giving £5 or 250 donors giving £100 - what would you prefer?

I've been spending a lot of time recently looking at donor recruitment and trying to develop a strategy to attract new support.

One of the questions I've been working through is whether to concentrate our limited budget on high volume, low average gift donors or low volume, high average gift donors.

Take the following scenario:

For the same recruitment cost you could either recruit 5,000 donors giving a first gift of £5 or recruit 250 donors giving a first gift of £100.

What would you prefer?

The relationship fundraiser in me instinctively says take the 250 donors giving £100, as you should be able to engage a higher percentage of them to give larger gifts and they could potentially become major donors. If you get it right, then the upside is large and the lifetime value is likely to be a lot higher than the high volume route.

However, it is probably a higher risk strategy as it relies on you being able to provide personal comms, have a good relationship manager and be able to inspire the donors to increase their donations and engage with your cause. Get this wrong and you'll quickly lose a high percentage of those 250 donors.

The high volume strategy is probably more predictable and less reliant on personal communications and staff, but the long term lifetime value is likely to be lower as average gifts won't increase significantly.

I'm currently testing both approaches and looking at the short and medium term ROI projections to decide where to concentrate our limited budget.

If you could only take one of the routes, which would you take and why? I'd love to hear from you...


Five things that make a fundraising event go viral...

If you're living in the UK then I'll put good money on the fact that you know someone or have spotted someone who is taking part in Movember this month.

I've lost count of the number of dodgy tasches I've seen on the tube and have got three good friends taking part as well.  I declined on the basis of my lack of facial hair growing ability...

Anyway, coming up with the 'next big thing' is a challenge many fundraisers face, so what makes Movember and other popular events such as the Macmillan Coffee Morning, the MoonwalkJeans for Genes Day, Santa Runs etc take off?

Here are five things that all these have in common:

1: They don't start as huge events

"Actually, I'm an overnight success. But it took twenty years."  Monty Hall

One of the first things to say is that these events tend to start small. 

Movember started in 1999 in Australia, after a group of friends decided to grow moustaches to raise money for the RSPCA (aptly named 'Growing Whiskers for Whiskers') and it was only in 2004 that the Movember Foundation was set up to raise money for men's health issues.  From there it has gone global with events starting in the UK, USA, Canada and Spain in 2007 and ireland joining the party in 2008.

Key lesson: Don't give up on an idea or event after it's first year.  If you're convinced it's got potential then give it at least three years to grow and develop (though bear in mind point two). 

Even better, get into the habit of trialling two or three low cost events per year and then invest in the ones with the greatest potential.

2: The event is easily replicated and has low start up costs

Growing a moustache, walking in your bra's after midnight, wearing a pair of jeans, having a cup of coffee etc are all pretty easy to do and don't require a lot of cost or effort.

Once you've got the formula right then it's very easy to roll out the event and to replicate it's initial success.

If your mass participation event involves something expensive or complicated then it's unlikely to gain traction. Similarly, if it takes too long to explain what your event is about, then it's probably not going to succeed.

Key lesson: Keep it simple and remove any barriers that people might object to.  Don't be too prescriptive if you can help it. Aim to produce oceans rather than puddles!

3: They create social experiences and give people a story to tell

All the events listed above create talking points and bring like minded people together.  It's about sharing an experience and emphasises the point that we are social animals. 

The events are successful as they create word of mouth and use the participants to spread the story and invite new people to take part.

Key lesson:  Make it easy for people to share their experiences at the event and to involve their networks in participating or donating.  Give them an interesting story to tell about the event and why it is important.

4: The cause is important, but not always the main reason for taking part

You need to be pragmatic about these type of events and accept that the majority of people are taking part for the social aspect of it first and the cause second.  This can be both a blessing and a curse. 

If you get the event right, then any charity can create a successful event, but on the other hand people's loyalty is likely to be with the event and not the cause.  This means you need to have a clear communications plan in place to nurture these donors. 

Don't just stick them straight into your direct marketing programme after the event and expect them to behave like your other supporters.

Key lesson: Focus on making your event as memorable as possible and get the participants to have a great time and to raise as much money as possible.  Once you've done this you can develop strategies for nurturing and developing the donor.

5: Accept that events have a natural product cycle and won't last forever

You need to constantly evaluate your event and look for ways to extend it's lifespan.  Slavishly following the same formula year after year will result in your event dying a slow death.

Look for new angles, partnerships and gimmicks to keep your event relevant and fresh.

Key lesson:  Don't become over-reliant on one event or campaign.  Tastes change and it won't be long before the next big thing comes along.  Look for ways to diversify and add extensions to the event, such as cause marketing and sponsorship.

One final point - Don't forget about the money!

I alluded to this in point four, but ultimately your fundraising event has to raise a significant sum of money.

Make sure you have robust systems in place to collect sponsorship and chase non-payers. Also think about how you can encourage participants to raise as much as they can and how to get people to increase their donations from a fiver to a tenner.

This is easily forgotten in the excitement of organising the event, but increasing your sponsorship returns and average donations by even a few percentage points can result in big increase in overall ROI.

What are your fundraising critical success factors?

I'm just in the process of writing my fundraising strategy and a key part for me is setting down the key fundraising principles and beliefs that underpin the work.

Here are my five essentials for fundraising success:

1: Outstanding donor care & stewardship

Every communication, every interaction and every touch point someone has with your charity needs to enhance the relationship that you have with them.

2: Fabulous storytelling

The donor needs to feel involved and to see themselves as part of the solution to the problem you are solving.  Great storytelling helps achieve this by providing inspiration, motivation, engagement and involvement.

3: Focus on legacies

The ultimate gift for any fundraiser is a legacy.

Yet because of the long term nature of legacies and the need for short term results they are often overlooked.

Every staff member, trustee and volunteer needs to know the importance of legacies to your organisation.

4: Integrated fundraising

Donors do not see themselves as ‘direct mail’ ‘face to face’ ‘corporate’ etc donors and you need to be careful not to put donors into convenient segments or silos.

You can differentiate and gain a competitive advantage by humanising and personalising your communications, understanding your donors as individuals and involving and engaging them in the things that interest them.

Similarly, you will increasingly need to integrate campaigns across media.

5: Volunteers

Volunteers are the lifeblood of many charities and it is vital that you look after them well, make them feel involved and give them the confidence, inspiration and tools to be ambassadors for your cause.

Those are my five key things - what would you include in your list?