Steward Your Monthly Givers Well

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A strong stewardship strategy is essential.

We made the case that a monthly gift program is worth the work for your nonprofit. And we’ve talked about how to build your program or grow the one you already have. Whether you have just a couple hundred sustainers or have doubled or tripled the number of people who support your organization on a monthly basis, a strong stewardship strategy is essential to keep these valuable donors engaged and giving over the long term. 

From the monthly giving sign-up process to the ongoing stewardship touches and additional opportunities to give, the goal is to make your donors feel valued and create a great experience. With that in mind, here are more ways to maximize the value of your sustainer program and overall fundraising.

Thank And Repeat

Donors want to know you appreciate their partnership – and them!

• Start with a great thank-you receipt. Acknowledge the receipt of their gift. Share specifically how they are already making an impact. Emphasize the lasting value of recurring donations. Their annual receipt for tax purposes provides a great opportunity to celebrate the total contribution they made with the accumulation of smaller gifts each month.

• Utilize multiple channels to thank them thoroughly and reinforce how important their commitment is to your organization. Send an automated (yet personal!) electronic thank-you to autopay donors. Continue paper receipting – at least quarterly – for all monthly givers. Be creative in using other channels such as phone, text, or social media for even more affirmation.

• Send newsletters, impact reports, and other “no ask” communications to thank these valuable supporters and validate again and again their choice to partner with your nonprofit with their recurring gifts.

Build Relationship

When you look at the annual and lifetime value of these monthly givers, it’s easy to justify investing in this relationship as you would with a major donor.

• Craft an annual communications plans tailored to sustained, monthly giving. Reduce the number of appeals. Show more frequently the lives that are impacted through their partnership with your organization. Tell more stories of those you serve. Remind these donors of the special role they play in both sustaining organization stability and increasing financial capacity for its mission.

• Have a dedicated contact person for your sustainers. Share their phone number and email with donors. Create a personal connection for them with a person, not just the organization.

• Ask for their input and opinions through one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and surveys. Create two-way dialog that deepens a relationship and treats them as more than just a funder.

• Be aggressive about following up on missed payments, not only to collect funds but also to show care and respect.

Create More Opportunities for Engagement

Donors who make a committed monthly gift to your organization are likely interested in other ways to be involved as well.

• Invite monthly givers to events for high-dollar donors. Make them feel like an insider and valued partner by giving them a special experience and access to your leadership.

• Designate specific volunteer opportunities for sustainers. Give them another way to support your work, ideally at the front lines of your program where they can meet and engage with those you serve.

• Make appropriate and periodic “extra gift” appeals. These are your most loyal donors and they appreciate the opportunity to support special projects, help meet an unexpected need, or write a note of encouragement to your program participants.

• Ask sustainers to be your advocates. Give them content and tools to share about your organization on social media. Create events to which they can invite their friends to come learn more about your nonprofit.

Keep Monthly Giving Active

No matter how much the donor may love your organization or how faithfully they’ve been giving, occasionally things happen that cause a payment to be dropped. But you can keep this to a minimum.

• Use a credit card updating service to ensure continuing support of sustaining donors and prevent lapsing. It also saves a great deal of staff time and administrative expense. Even better, encourage your donors to give by EFT from a bank account, which never expires (and is less likely to change).

• Create a lapsed prevention and recapture communication strategy. Work proactively when possible, and quickly when the monthly gift has already been missed. Use multiple channels and make it as easy as possible for the donor to reactivate their giving. (Tip: send email from a real person rather than an organizational address to increase deliverability and readership.) If their financial situation has changed and they’re unable to continue their commitment to your nonprofit, offer a lower monthly gift amount or to pause their giving for a specified period of time.  

Charity Abate, CFRE

For more ideas or advice for overcoming your monthly giving stewardship challenges, send us an email at

John Payne