Monthly Giving Program: Success but not overnight success.


           If you work for an international charity with a monthly giving program the numbers below are not going to astound you. They might make you chuckle a little, but they do provide an example of how a small charity can build this type of program. A little less than a decade ago our annual budget was a little over $300,000, this year it is closing in on $5 million annually. We operate a lot more programs and services than we did a decade ago. Nonetheless reading some of the figures below you will quickly have an idea that we did not see a monthly giving program as a quick fix to revenue generation. We considered it more of a slow slogging journey that would ultimately create some of the benefits I described in this post:


          We started our program in late 2005 when we signed up for a Canada Helps account. Canada Helps allowed us to accept on-line donations on our website and they had a monthly giving option for donors. The following calendar year we had one monthly donor sign up, ironically not on line-she sent us a bunch of postdated cheques. No matter our monthly donor program had launched. The graph below indicates the number of monthly donors per year involved in the program. With 54 donors last year- World Vision or Unicef will not be calling us for advice any time soon.  However you can see we stumbled along the first couple of years and then started to make some more impressive gains after 2010.Image


Even though our charity is not dealing with large numbers of gifts in this program there are definitely some benefits in terms of the volume of donations that will ultimately start to flow in and the resulting positive affect this can have for your monthly cash flow. The chart below is the actual number of gifts or donations received each year through the program.Image


The last two graphs represent the monthly and yearly revenues generated by this program. As you might guess at this point the revenue is not a game changer currently in our financial situation; however within the last two years you can definitely see the potential for the program to start growing in a much more geometric fashion.

         So what changed after 2010 you ask? Well a few things, first in some ways we just started to hit more critical mass in terms of donors in the program. As I mentioned in the last post these donors tend to stay with you a couple of years. So we don’t think of the program as an $11,347 a year program. We think the way McKinnon (1999) thinks- these donors are with you 5 to 10 years- so really the program is now worth $56,735 to $113,470 to us. There were two major drivers of the growth post 2010 partnering with companies and new software. Around 2010 we started to invest in the back end of our website to make it easier for donors to give on line. As we had some new on-line software and tools we were also much more likely to promote our monthly giving program on our website and in our newsletter. Our fundraising staff also started to talk to our corporate sponsors who had programs to match their employee giving. Some of these companies have their own foundation and provide receipts to their employees. A few of our partners did not have this capacity, so we offered to receipt the donations for their employees ourselves. All of a sudden we had a number of monthly donors, and their company was actually doing about half of the administration for us (the employer collects the donations for us and forwards us the proceeds as well as the donor contact information-then we do the receipting).

I don’t want to be too overly optimistic, but I think next year or the following year I might just be posting that the monthly giving program is a financial game-changer for us.ImageImage




McKinnon, H (1999) Hidden Gold: How monthly giving will build donor loyalty, boost your organizations  

          income, and increase financial stability: Chicago: Bonus Books Inc.


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