Monthly Giving Insights from the Bridge Conference

Another great experience at the 2012 Bridge Conference! The entire event was well planned, well executed and well attended (over 1,500 I heard). The whirlwind three-day conference promised a lot—and delivered on it. Our own Monica Tiffany presented at the "Hear from the Copywriting Pros" panel.

(And did a stellar job I might add!)

I could write a dissertation on this year's sessions, but I'll focus here on monthly giving. Two stand-out sessions come to mind, "Monthly Giving Programs from a Donor's Perspective" and "Anatomy of Hot Monthly Giving Programs."

In the first session, our friends at MINDset Direct described results from their "secret shopper" experiences with major nonprofits (18 months). Key findings:
  • Organizations take way too long to get the "welcome kit" in hand. The longest time recorded was 64 days! Meanwhile, other organizations are capturing the hearts and minds of your donors.
  • You can't talk to donors as if they are new to the organization when they're not. One monthly giving statement retold the organization's mission every single month (not respectful of the relationship, and well, a little boring). 
  • Gratitude is extremely important and not expressed enough by nonprofits. Retaining monthly donors requires letting them know that progress is being made and they are absolutely essential. Make it a personal relationship. 
The second session featured great case studies from HRC and PETA. HRC just crossed the 50,000 mark in number of monthly supporters! Wow. Highlights from this session:
  • Ask your donors how they want to be communicated with (channel and frequency) and honor that. (This was a major theme throughout the entire conference). 
  • Think of innovative ways to use challenge dollars to secure new monthly donors. PETA had a great example ... "If we can get 1,000 new monthly donors, a generous donor has promised $100,000." (something along those lines). A great way to build a bridge (no pun intended) between monthly and major gift departments.
  • Be careful in language. HRC once used the word "delinquent" in trying to renew lapsed monthly donors. The reaction was negative and fierce. Lesson learned.