FYI Blog

Avalon Digital Resources

Here’s a quick rundown of Avalon best practices for three hot digital topics: monthly sustainers, donor thank-you packages, and avoiding spam filters

Looks like everyone got the memo about how loyal monthly sustainers can be the lifeblood of fundraising programs! Monthly giving increased by 40% in 2017 and rose from 14% of all online revenue to 16% of online revenue, according to the 2018 M+R Benchmarks. Donors feel good about giving monthly, as giving over time fits their budgets and they like knowing they’re helping every month.

Gere are some ways to increase the visibility of your digital sustainer option to pull in even more of these super donors:

  • Brand your sustainer program with a unique name to entice prospects to give monthly. The name helps joiners identify as special donors, which will reinforce their connection with your organization. Common successful names include the word “Circle” or “Society” as a way to make the group feel exclusive and special.
  • The easiest way to digitally promote a sustainer program is to add a monthly giving option to your homepage via a prominent “Give Monthly” button.
  • Your donation form copy should highlight the value of sustainers’ steady and reliable income, and how their regular gifts save the organization the cost of printing and mailing renewal notices. And don’t forget to create some meaningful benefits to promote to prospects and encourage them to sign up.
  • Worth considering: many nonprofits have changed the default ask on their primary donation page to a sustainer option. If you go this route, make it very clear that this is a monthly giving selection, and be ready for a slight increase in customer service calls when the second payment goes through and a round of people who didn’t realize they signed up for monthly giving are surprised to see a recurring credit card charge.
  • Include a sustainer gift ask in your email welcome series by actively asking these hand raisers to make a monthly commitment.
  • We like the results when our sustainer efforts reinforce email marketing, so we often email donors with a sustainer ask after multi-effort campaigns, like a year-end appeal.
  • Lightboxes can be effective for growing the sustainer program. You could install a lightbox on your website to solicit sustaining gifts or on the regular donation form to asks donors to consider making their one-time gift a smaller, recurring monthly gift.

Retention begins the minute a donor makes a gift, so how you follow up on that first gift is critical. Especially with new digital donors, the window is small for connecting and creating a lasting relationship. This is where your thank-you pages and emails can do the heavy lifting for you.

Your donation thank-you page should go beyond sincerely offering thanks for the gift received. Use this space to inform donors about your cause, introduce them to ways that they can engage with your organization, and capture useful personal information so that you can customize their experience.

  • Add a way for donors to sign up for an email newsletter subscription. This is particularly important under the new General Data Protection guidelines, which hold that a nonprofit can no longer assume that making a gift implies consent to be added to its email list. So send an email newsletter inviting them to sign up and include the subscription option on the donation receipt.
  • Ask your donors’ opinions to help you learn more about them and customize how you interact. You could ask what motivated them to give or how they heard about your organization in the first place. Another idea is to ask them which of your programs most interest them with a multiple choice question.
  • To highlight your organization’s impact and educate your donor on what their support helps to accomplish, include a video testimonial by someone helped by the organization or a description of achievements by your CEO/president. These compelling video stories build bonds with donors as they realize all the ways they can make a difference.
  • Provide opportunities for engagement—through petitions, quizzes, surveys, or other features that will keep your donors on your website for as long as possible,learning about your organization.
  • Always include social sharing buttons—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.—so you can keep the conversation going, share ideas, and build your relationship. Make sure that both your thank-you page and thank-you emails include social sharing buttons.

And finally, how can you make your emails stand out in the ever-more-crowded inbox? Step one: improve your organization’s sender reputation so your emails don’t end up in spam folders, like 20%+ of nonprofit email messages.

A negative sender reputation can be caused by a number of factors, including poor list hygiene, high spam rates, and low engagement (open and click-through). Even with a perfect sender reputation, it’s still important to vigilantly monitor these three key factors to maintain good deliverability year-round.

Check out my recent post, Are Your Emails Being Delivered? to learn how to improve your sender reputation:

  • Maintain good list hygiene
  • Reduce spam complaints
  • Increase subscriber engagement

These steps have been email best practices for years, but the new GDPR rules for deliverability make them much more important and urgent. Maintaining and improving your organization’s sender reputation is well worth the effort, to ensure that your emails make it into the inboxes of people who want to read and act upon them.