Penelope Burk is the queen of donor-centric fundraising and a determined surveyor of donor attitudes and behavior. Burk released her 2012 Cygnus Donor Survey last week, and it is chock full of interesting data.
What caught my eye was the information about monthly (recurring) giving. I'm a big fan of it from both the donor perspective and the nonprofit one.
Monthly giving is growing in the US, but it still lags behind other countries such as the UK and Canada. The Cyngus Survey found that 76% of its American respondents say they've been asked to consider monthly giving, but that stands in contrast to the 90% who said so in the Canadian version of the survey.
Also, Canadians of all ages seem to have been asked to become monthly donors; whereas in the US younger donors were less often invited to be monthly donors (66%) than other age groups. A clue to this difference may be in the prevalence of "street fundraising," so well described by Tom Ahern in his recent newsletter. Street fundraising, which is not nearly as common in the US, targets the young and pushes monthly giving.
In the US, 29% of survey respondents who were asked for monthly gifts say they are currently active monthly contributors, while 9% of them have lapsed from their monthly giving pledges.
Monthly givers in the US are more often women than men, but men tend to be more generous when they do give monthly.
Monthly givers reported a very high level of satisfaction, with 81% giving a rating of 6 or 7 on a 7-point scale. Retention among monthly givers is also quite high, with only 22% cancelling their commitment after giving monthly for a while.
Most of this is positive for monthly giving programs, but the Cygnus researchers found that monthly givers are not necessarily prospects for major gifts. They are no more likely than other kinds of givers to make additional single gifts, a planned gift, or a major gift.
It could be that monthly giving taps a certain niche of givers who like the fact that they can give a small amount of money each month that they might not miss, but that amounts to a rather significant amount over time. By setting up a monthly giving program, charities can turn a one-time gift of $10 or $20 into $120 or $240 over the course of a year. But, it seems pretty clear, that recurring giving is not going to replace other forms of fundraising.
If monthly giving is a form of low hanging fruit, it's puzzling why some US nonprofits still don't have monthly giving programs. Is it a systems problem? Do some nonprofits not have the online capacity to accept recurring gifts yet? Have some tried and been discouraged by dropouts or the need to follow up when a credit card on file expires?
Let me know what you think. For some excellent tips for encouraging monthly giving for your organization, see this Network for Good article, 3 Ways to Encourage Monthly Giving.
You can download the executive summary of The Cygnus Donor Survey here.
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