Integrating channels to spark hot monthly giving programs

By Eric Overman, Vice President for Digital Strategy and Integrated Services

No doubt, a robust monthly giving program provides many benefits. And when nonprofits are looking for an area in which to focus investments around integrating channels and campaigns, monthly sustainer recruitment is one that can see a big payoff from a well-integrated and multi-channel program.

One great example of a successful, integrated monthly giving program is PETA’s Investigations and Rescue Fund. PETA, founded in 1980, is the largest animal rights group in the world with over 3 million members and supporters. The Investigations and Rescue Fund is one of their key initiatives, with the investigations and rescues leading to some of PETA’s greatest successes and public relations events. And for those that might ask, yes this monthly sustainer program is restricted income. The donors that join know exactly what the money goes toward with this program, and like most donors, they like knowing how their investment is being spent.

Success Factors:

  • Building program that engages around the core mission
  • Building a program offering donors the choice to respond in the way they prefer
  • Campaign/message integration across multiple channels
  • Giving the opportunity to join immediately following first gift, and again throughout the year
  • Segmenting donors to optimize relevant messaging
  • Month-long online campaign dedicated to monthly giving conversion

Campaign Results:

  • Over 18,000 current monthly donors
  • Month-long online sustainer campaign increased organic monthly sustainers signups by 100%

Multiple Channels: Telephone, Online, Direct Mail, DRTV

PETA’s Investigations and Rescue Fund has both “rolling” telemarketing sustainer recruitment, as well as a one-month online campaign focused solely on recruitment. Both reflect a tightly integrated campaign across multiple channels, offering up the opportunity at the right time and allowing the donor to act via the channel they prefer. It also provides a venue for their most avid supporters to step up immediately and join in the group’s core mission. Building a program around donor preferences and one that engages in the core mission, are crucial for success of sustainer giving programs. And, speaking directly to over 25 monthly cultivation segments helps PETA get the message and details just right.

  • Direct Mail: The rolling recruitment starts within one month of joining PETA as a first time donor. In the mail, a donor receives the acknowledgement of and thank you for their gift, as well as information on and an invitation to join the Investigations and Rescue Fund.
  • Phone: The other cornerstone channel in the rolling recruitment campaign is the telephone. In addition to the direct mail acknowledgement that hits within the first 30 days, periodic telephone calls are made throughout the year, with a focus on sustainer giving…although keeping the options still open for that second/third/fourth gift is advisable for those not wishing to become monthly supporters.
  • Online: More recently, online elements have been added to support the rolling campaigns, and over the past couple of years, a dedicated month-long online campaign focused on monthly giving was added as well. As a result, online monthly sustainers are the faster growing segment of the program. Online elements that support the rolling campaign include monthly giving opt-in options on donation pages, renewal emails, and custom URL links for offline campaigns. During the month-long campaign, additional online elements include a call out on PETA’s homepage, dedicated landing pages, Facebook advertising, and a dedicated email campaign series around the Investigations and Rescue Fund.
  • DRTV: And last but not least, DRTV. And it’s one of my favorites for those with the budget. But what I really love about this DRTV spot is how it was re-used online as part of an email and viral social campaign. The original spot ended up being banned and labeled too graphic for many major networks. So, while the spot didn’t measure up to Director of Development Steve Kehrli’s expectations in raising revenue via DRTV itself since the airings were cut significantly, his decision to let us build a great online campaign to their email constituents around the “Banned from TV” video online is a reminder –- if you have DRTV video assets, see where else you can use them!

The above information was authored based on a presentation by Mwosi Swenson (Donordigital) and Steve Kehrli (PETA) that was given at the most recent BRIDGE conference.

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