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October 18, 2010
The Big Monthly Giving Sweet Spot

It's big. Very big.
 
The monthly giving sweet spot that is.
 
In 2009, individuals or household donors in the U.S. gave $227.41 billion. As a percentage individuals account for a staggering 75% of all 2009 U.S Charitable Giving (Source: Giving USA, a report compiled annually by the American Association of Fundraising Counsel).
 
By comparison, foundations were responsible for a 13% share and corporations supplied 4% of the 2009 total.

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September 16, 2010
Introducing MEG, Monthly Engaged Giving

She’s not monthly giving as nonprofits know it today.

Monthly Engaged Giving (MEG) is a breakthrough fundraising category developed in recognition of two challenging nonprofit realities.

1) Cash flow is almost always a struggle.
2) Traditional individual donor fundraising is declining in effectiveness.

MEG ushers in a fresh fundraising approach that improves cash flow, builds real relationships, and dramatically improves donor longevity.

She knows the monthly giving concept is highly desirable in the erratic cash flow world of nonprofits. Yet she’s observed that it’s frequently little more than an obscure online option or check box on a traditional mailing. Those tactics rarely succeed in building a significant body of consistent monthly givers. That’s because they are neither strategic nor engaging.

Monthly Engaged Giving programs combine Sales, Marketing and Donor Engagement. From big picture concept and strategy to tactical touches with stakeholders, MEG is a complete package.

MEG understands the psychology of involved giving and capitalizes on changing attitudes toward giving in today’s culture. And she knows the statistics. Monthly givers stay for an average of 4 years. Plus, 42% of monthly donors give a one-time gift in their first two years.

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September 23, 2010
Twelve Reasons to Employ Monthly Engaged Giving (MEG)

1. Nonprofits need to win. The work of charitable organizations is too important to fail. And the needs are even greater in down economies. Monthly Engaged Giving is an innovative and often overlooked success component.

2. Monthly givers are 12 times better. Monthly Engaged Giving strategies help nonprofits engage consistent supporters.

3. Cash must flow. Cash flow issues can limit service to those in need, discourage staff and stall important new initiatives.

4. Some risks aren't rewarding. Everybody loves the big donor but smaller consistent givers neutralize risk. Dozens of consistent givers can be the equivalent of a large donor. In insurance terms, it's "spreading risk".

5. People give, programs don't. Monthly giving programs should focus on the giver, not the giving. Details like list maintenance and event planning are important, but not at the expense of relationships with individual givers.

6. Givers are good, engaged givers are better. What's missing from most monthly giving programs are ways to engage givers. A first donation should be the beginning, not the end, of a relationship. Multiple touches demonstrate appreciation and fuel consistent giving.

7. Everybody needs specialists. Monthly giving is too important to trust to generalists. Specialists go beyond the obvious to discover the subtleties that produce results. That includes eyeing trends and studying the psychology of the giver.

8. Capitalize on culture. The cultural landscape has never been riper for Monthly Engaged Giving. Today people are not merely content to send money to a nonprofit. They want to know how their donations are paying dividends. They want to be bonded to the good work being done. Simply put, they want to be engaged.

9. Spray and Pray is short term thinking. This old fundraising adage really needs to be an old fundraising memory. Individual solicitations can no longer be considered one-time events. They are part of a bigger picture with the goal of long-term engagement. 

10. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Successful monthly giving efforts have to be part of the plan. Effective Monthly Engaged Giving programs are built on coordinated marketing, sales and donor engagement plans. While complimentary to other fundraising strategies, they are customized for monthly givers.

11. Technology drives the bottom line. It makes designing, launching and growing a Monthly Engaged Giving program more affordable and resource efficient than ever before. A digital fundraising management and marketing system allows nonprofits to dramatically increase cash flow in volume and predictability. What’s more, over 85% of donors use the internet to keep up with their favorite charities. An investment in fundraising aided by technology just makes sense.

12. Monthly Engaged Giving. Successful Monthly Engaged Giving efforts are more than programs; they’re an answer to prayers. Amen.

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October 04, 2010
Fundraising Experts Make Bold Forecast for Monthly Giving Programs

Fundraising experts and academic researchers, Sargeant and Jay, in their book, Building Donor Loyalty, boldly predict, "...that by the mid-2010s (2014-2016) the majority of individual-giving solicitations will be for (monthly giving programs)..."
 
Far fetched prediction? Maybe not.
 
Two particularly painful challenges in the nonprofit world 1) ongoing cash flow predictability issues and 2) the declining effectiveness of traditional donor appeals, suggest a significant opportunity for a fresh fundraising approach. 
 
Knowing that technology advances have made launching and growing a monthly engaged giving program more affordable and efficient than ever before, Sargeant and Jay's "bold forecast" is beginning to sound more like "wise prophecy."

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September 29, 2010
What’s Missing from Most Monthly Giving Programs?

What's missing from most monthly giving programs are ways to engage givers.

The cultural landscape has never been riper for Monthly Engaged Giving. Today people are not merely content to send money to a nonprofit.

They want to know how their donations are paying dividends. They want to be bonded to the good work being done. Simply put, they want to be engaged.

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October 07, 2010
Omar, Monthly Engaged Giving and Peace of Mind for Nonprofits

Who is Omar?
 
Omar, a 9 year old Honduran boy, is our family friend and one of more than 310,000 children, youth and aging persons that are sponsored through the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA).
 
Founded in 1981, CFCA receives more than 90% of its revenue through its “Hope for a Family” monthly giving program.  In 2008, CFCA’s total revenues and contributions exceeded $103.9 million. Their fundraising expense was an astonishingly low 2.9% (See financials at www.cfcausa.org). Most nonprofits have a fundraising expense of at least 8% and the national average is closer to 20%.
 
CFCA fundraises almost exclusively through a single channel. Founded by a group of Catholics as a layperson nonprofit, virtually all CFCA sponsors learn about the program through guest homilies (sermons) delivered by CFCA-hired traveling priests. On any given weekend, a priest will sign-up an average of 140 sponsors in the three to five parishes that he visits.
 
CFCA’s fundraising efficiency is remarkable as is the way they facilitate relationship building between each sponsor family and sponsored child. It’s not the type of monthly giving that most nonprofits employ. It’s Monthly Engaged Giving.
 
We know Omar, our CFCA child, from the letters and photographs we have exchanged with him since becoming his sponsor through our parish 3.5 years ago. The experience is so rewarding for us that we see the $30 monthly support for Omar as an “untouchable” family budget item.
 
That kind of engagement and the resulting revenue stream, point to an extraordinary opportunity for nonprofit organizations. Monthly Engaged Giving programs or sustainer programs, as they are sometimes called, provide something that virtually all nonprofits desperately need, predictable cash flow.  Consistent cash flow (four years for the average monthly giver) allows nonprofits to pause, to think and to adjust long-standing and often inefficient fundraising methods.
 
Monthly Engaged Giving programs offer nonprofits peace of mind and enable a long-term planning horizon.
 
Peace of mind. That’s an answer to prayers.

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October 21, 2010
Monthly Giving and the Beautiful Psychology of Bite Size Donations

Picture these gift requests…
 
Scenario A: You receive a call from an enthusiastic student from your Alma Mater. She asks you to make a $500 donation to the University's Annual Fund by credit card while you are on the phone. She lets you know that your name will be listed in the special annual givers report and that you will receive a thank you from the University President.
 
Scenario B: You receive a call from an enthusiastic student from your Alma Mater. She invites you to join your Alma Mater’s monthly engaged giving (MEG) program. You learn that as a program member you will receive a special car decal, the members only special monthly e-newsletter and a note personally signed by a current student. She suggests that you join at the $50 per month level and reassures you that you can cancel at any time. You understand that your monthly support can be set-up to be debited from a checking account or put on a credit card on a specific day each month.
 
Which appeal is more likely to spark your financial support?
 
P.S. There's more to it. Think lifetime value. The average monthly giver stays for four years. 30-50% of givers to Annual Funds do not renew their gift the following year.

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November 01, 2010
Monthly Engaged Giving, Made for Generations X and Y

For Baby Boomers, supporting charities has primarily meant mailing checks in response to direct mail appeals or attending fundraising galas.
 
In contrast, Generations X and Y (current ages 18 through 50) have grown-up with hands-on volunteerism. They are comfortable with and even expect two-way communication and personal involvement in the organizations they support. Change is their norm.
 
Gen X's and Gen Y's know and live digital and online media. They don't want to merely read about the cause. They want to be in it. Think video games.
 
Many in Generations X and Y have experienced the thrills and trauma of their efforts to achieve success and material wealth. With that, they yearn for something more. They are searching for meaning, purpose and belonging. Gen X and Gen Y want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
 
Enter Monthly Engaged Giving (MEG). MEG is all about engagement. She was conceived in and designed for a digital and social media world. Monthly Engaged Giving talks and walks in the Gen X and Gen Y world. But most importantly, the MEG approach embodies the characteristics and higher purpose to which X's and Y's aspire.

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November 05, 2010
Baby Boomers, Their Gen X and Gen Y Kids and MEG

By virtue of standard of living advances and generational philosophical differences, it's widely understood that Gen X's and Gen Y's have especially close relationships with their Baby Boomer parents. The strength of those relationships translates to influence that runs both ways; from parent to kid and kid to parent.
 
Fundraisers, want to engage more Baby Boomers in your cause?
 
Think Monthly Engaged Giving (MEG) by way of an introduction from their Gen X and Gen Y kids.

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