Booking Sustainer Giving As A Financial Asset [Live from AICPA Not-for-Profit Industry Conference]

Fundraisers know that the longer donors stay with an organization, the more valuable they become. That is because their retention represents a commitment to the mission and work of the organization — thus, they become treasured partners.

So, if you imagine your donor base is a financial asset like an endowment portfolio, a sustained donor constituency is like blue chip stocks. In other words, it is an especially valuable class of donors. It is a class that meets each of the three essential objectives for donor base value and management: stability, value, and yield.

    During a session at the AICPA Not-For-Profit Industry Conference in National Harbor, Md. Chuck Longfield, senior vice president and chief scientist at Blackbaud, Inc., gave a talk “ROI on Sustainers.” Some of Longfield’s research findings were:

  • Asking donors to give on a monthly basis will more than double new donor retention;
  • Making monthly giving the default option on your website will triple the percentage of sustainer gifts and more than double the percentage of sustainer revenue;
  • Converting multi-year, single-gift donors to sustainers will generate higher average gifts and more than double the percentage retained donors after 10 years; and,
  • Using the credit card updater service to correct expired and incorrect credit cards will retain nearly 3% more credit cards per month.
    Longfield also discussed the benefits of such sustainer practices as:

  • Being aggressive in collecting missed payments;
  • Surveying sustainers who stop giving;
  • Encouraging sustainers to upgrade to higher giving levels;
  • Including sustainers in traditional communication streams;
  • Providing monthly donors with phone# & email of a program manager

Sustainer giving is extraordinarily valuable because people give more and the program substantially increases donor retention, according to Longfield. The combination of these factors not only means a great yield from each donor, but lower costs and higher income, he told the audience.