The sustainer revolution

We have a new white paper out called The sustainer revolution: why to get, how to get, and how to keep your monthly donors. But rather than force you to download it to see if it is something you want, I’ve put the opening here. Hope you enjoy!

We reached a notable negative landmark in 2018: one-time online giving was down.

Ever since the information superhighway started—even back when it was unironically called the information superhighway—one-time online donations had gone nothing but up.  Not even global economic recession could stop the hockey-stick, rocket-ship, up-and-to-the-right growth of one-time digital giving.  But overall digital giving didn’t decline overall in 2018.  Rather, the decline in one-time giving was offset by a 17% increase in monthly giving.  Nor was this an isolated incident; monthly giving digital growth has consistently outpaced one-time.  This trend continued into 2019 even as one-time giving began to grow again.

Monthly donors are the wave of the future.  Not only are they growing, but in the good times and the bad, the sustainers are who you can count on.  When the storms come, a disaster strikes, or a pandemic shuts a country down, the sustainers will see you through—because they have signed on for the long term.  In this white paper, we’ll talk about why they are growing, how to attract them, and (most importantly) how to keep them and keep them giving.

Part of the move to monthly giving is a cultural change.  By 2007, Netflix had already shipped its first billion DVDs; its subscription service, while not yet streaming, was already killing Blockbuster.  Since 2012, subscription businesses have grown revenues five times faster than the overall S&P 500 or retail sales.  And upstart subscription services have taken a bite out of traditional retailers, who have scrambled to catch up: Dollar Shave Club versus Gillette, Amazon Prime versus everyone, and Spotify versus traditional music sales—we now spend most of our movie and music dollars (and an increasing share of consumer goods) through subscription services.

This impact ripples through all parts of our life.  This white paper was written in Office 365, which used to be a purchased product and now is a subscription service.  It was designed using an Adobe subscription service and uploaded to our WordPress subscription-based website.  And if you downloaded it there, your data went into our subscription to SalesForce’s CRM platform.  People can, and do, live their lives with their food, transportation, housing, entertainment, clothing, grooming, and more paid for with subscription or auto-pay services. 

When you achieve this type of subscription critical mass, it’s natural to subscribe to your charity in the same ways.  This is why monthly giving shifted from 20% of overall individual giving to 30% in just the two years between 2016 and 2018.  You can even combine subscription-based products and charitable giving.  Consider UK-based charity Scope, which focuses on equity for people with disabilities.  They wanted to appeal to parents, so they created Mindful Monsters, a card and activity set rolled out monthly that helps parents instill mindfulness in their kids.  With your £7.50 monthly or £75 annual gift, you get a starter pack with seven activity cards, a parent’s guide, and monster stickers, with more activity cards sent each month to add to the set.  The monsters focus on four themes of mindfulness: concentration, positivity, relaxation, and creativity.  Scope reports it was able to lower monthly donor acquisition costs by 75%, cut time to break even in half, and retain these donors far better than average.

So there’s the free preview of the free white paper. Hope it helps you make the case and the strategy for monthly giving. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments at; want to make sure we are serving you!

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