Not all monthly donors are created equal: Nonprofit Federation show

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Washington -- At the Direct Marketing Association's annual Nonprofit Federation conference, representatives from Greenpeace, Habitat for Humanity International, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Craver, Matthews, Smith & Co. spoke to the variety of about the growing trend that not all monthly donors are created equal.

Monthly donor programs can be set up automatically through a credit card or checking account. Check writers who mail a gift each month are also often eligible for monthly donor programs.

"Our goal here is to provide you with templates to produce a variety of monthly donor reports and to understand the different benchmarks that organizations use," said Steve Froehlich of ASPCA. "Donors need to be inspired and we have used backed analytic reporting to help better suit donors."

In order to attract monthly donors organizations may use direct response television, online donation monthly giving, telemarketing, house mailings or acquisition mail.

Greenpeace uses a face-to-face program called direct dialogue, where recruiters approach people on the streets of six different U.S. cities. They ask for monthly donors and only accept credit cards and EFTs.

"Our direct dialogue has produced 95 percent of our new donors," said Danny McGregor of Greenpeace. "We pay recruiters whether they recruit or not and this includes health insurance and being on the payroll as staff."

Factors determining the cost of the program include hourly wage, fixed cost per recruiter, office and program, and number of supporters recruited per hour and hours worked per week per recruiter. Average monthly gift and attrition also play a role.

"Donors see the face of Greenpeace through our recruiters, which is very different from receiving a piece of mail," Mr. McGregor said.

Of the 55,000 active HopeBuilders for Habitat for Humanity, approximately 52 percent use direct pay via a credit card or EFT. The file is built mainly from newly acquired donors in the $0-99 range.

"We try to advert as many donors as possible to direct pay," said Debbie Roskowsky of Craver, Matthews, Smith & Company. "The HopeBuilder program targets donors who have behavior of monthly donors and that give a few times a year."

The HopeBuilder program spends three cents to make a profit of $1 from donors.

"We have found that instead of asking for one $100 gift that asking for $15 a month for 12 months is more successful," Ms. Roskowsky said.

In order to improve relations, Habitat has enacted several strategies driven from analysis. These include adding an anniversary package to improve retention at 13, 25 and 37 months, adding a pre delinquent Book of Hope to increase retention at 18 months and revamping first and third delinquent mailings.

The anniversary package features a letter from a child who's home was built by Habitat, along with a HopeBuilder's plastic bracelet and pin. The tag line reads, "HopeBuilders Build Hope."

The Habitat Book of Hope allows for donors to write their names and a brief message for the book that is kept at the reception desk at the nonprofit's headquarters in Atlanta, GA.

The third initiative for pre-delinquent donors is a roster package that includes a letter citing other donors in their home city and how they came back to Habitat.

"It doesn't place guilt upon the donor," said Rowena Cala for Habitat for Humanity. "It welcomes them back."

If recognition is not made after the third and final letter, the donor's account is then closed and they are enrolled back into the appeal series.

Moving forward, Habitat will continue to monitor retention and efficiency of anniversary and delinquent packages and also develop a sustainer offer and monthly program for new donors acquired during times of disaster.

"Our new efforts for this year include a 12 by 12 renewable sustainer program where donors commit to $12 a month for a 12-month period," Ms. Cala said. "We also plan to develop an online sustainer offer and monthly program for new Web donors."

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