3 Months, 1 Monthly Giving Program Launch: How Roots Ethiopia’s Meghan Walsh Made It Happen

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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I am truly honored to have Meghan Walsh, the Founder and Board Chair for Roots Ethiopia on the podcast today. Not only is Meghan a trained cultural anthropologist and former social studies teacher, she was also a member of my monthly giving program mastermind this summer, and I am SO proud of what she’s created!

Today we’re talking about WHY a monthly giving program was a priority for her organization, the goals for their program, and some juicy behind-the-scenes stories of what happened once the program went live.

Roots Ethiopia is doing amazing things in the world as they help children living in extreme poverty go to school. Let’s go meet Meghan!

Why a monthly giving program should be a top priority 

There is superb data that tells us the value of monthly donors. And EVERY organization that’s raising money should be developing a monthly donor program. Meghan believed all of this but struggled to get her program off the ground due to limited bandwidth.

Meghan joined my mastermind program to bring The Roots to life.

First, she thought about what her goals were, and two came to mind:

  1. Doubling her monthly donors (they started with 140 donors)
  2. Creating another type of experience for her donors

Crafting a monthly giving program is not an easy feat – in Meghan’s case, it involved switching their donation platform, their email marketing tool, updating their CRM, and diving into Facebook ads.

If you know your organization wants to level up, be curious about the process and commit to making it happen. Meghan was surprised to see that after implementing these new tools, their mobile donations increased, and adding PayPal, Venmo, and Google Pay now accounts for 44% of their donations.

The power of building a monthly giving program in community

Meghan felt like she was an old dog learning new tricks as she learned how to set up Zapier workflows and bring in these new technologies to power her monthly giving program.

Not having a lot of other resources or paid staff, she did a lot of this solo, and finally putting something in place and having the tools, guidance, and resources to do it right gave her a tremendous amount of confidence.

She said, “I’ve gone in and done things I’ve never done before and done them well! As long as I approach it confidently, I’m okay with that learning curve.”

There was nothing more energizing than being in community with others and doing this alongside five other organizations. Piece by piece, they all supported each other – from watching their giving videos, to sharing their opinions on what their giving programs should be named. They cheered each other on, collaborated, and encouraged each other.

Meghan noted she rarely feels in competition with other nonprofits, so being in that shared mastermind experience was everything to her: “I was in there cheerleading and getting excited, because, well, frankly, it was all exciting! Every step of the way. I’m so sad that it’s over.”

What surprised Meghan the most going through this process

The migrating process was beyond daunting – would their donors manually move their donations to FundraiseUp? Meghan was surprised to discover that over 20% of their donors actually increased their donation amount!

While it seemed like a cumbersome task, Meghan focused on a personalized approach, sending text messages, and even offering calls to help do it for them. One of their oldest donors is 92 years old, and not only did she increase her donation from $15 to $20 per month, she was delighted to speak with Meghan, who in return, gave her an award for being the matriarch of their donor community.

If you have people that are excited about your cause, they’ll do what it takes, especially if it means they’re going to have a better experience.

Creating the video was also a surprise – Meghan couldn’t believe how much she loved it! When you see the results after all of the scripting and filming, it will blow your confidence out of the water.

Now, Meghan is thinking about how she can continue using video, Instagram Reels, and YouTube to increase communication with her audience. It’s a generative piece of having done this work.

Meghan’s Ask

Are you feeling inspired at this moment? Meghan is looking for someone to help Roots Ethiopia strategize and develop a growth plan that includes staff. 

As she shares in the episode, “the legacy of Roots Ethiopia goes far beyond me, and we are an organization that [is] ready for that next step. I need help figuring out how to bring that next group of inspired leaders into Roots Ethiopia on the US side of operations.”

Connect with Meghan directly at meghan@rootsethiopia.org

Notable Quotes from Meghan

“The learning and discovery of our own strengths and spaces where we can help create improved experiences for our donors, which translates into improved programming, is SO worth it. It’s just critically important.”

“Every donor out there deserves to find their right organization that they’re passionate about. I rarely feel in competition with other nonprofits because I’m so focused on finding the donors who are passionate about my work, and wanting donors who are passionate about somebody else’s work to find them. So that’s all to say that working in a collegial setting is particularly engaging for me.”

Resources & Links

Learn more about the incredible mission of Roots Ethiopia and check out their monthly giving program, The Roots or follow them on Instagram at @rootsethiopia. You can also connect with Meghan at meghan@rootsethiopia.org

Check out Roots Ethiopia’s tech stack: FundraiseUp, Flodesk, and Zapier.

Applications are now open for my 2023 mastermind to help 5 organizations build and launch their monthly giving programs! Find out more and apply here. 

Want to make Missions to Movements even better? Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram. Be sure to tag @positivequation so I can connect with you.

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