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How To Build a Monthly Giving Program With A 98% Retention Rate

Reading Time: 3 minutes


Chive Charities in my opinion, has one of the best monthly giving programs. They have a dedicated monthly giving community of 4,000 donors that creates 70% of their revenue with a 98% month-over-month retention rate. Holy cow! 

If you’re like me, you’re thinking: What’s their acquisition for new supporters? What do giving amounts look like? What’s the plan for retention?

So of course, I had to bring in Senior Director of Operations, Erika Carley, to share more about the incredible behind-the-scenes impact of their monthly giving program, the Green Ribbon Fund, which supports underserved veterans, military families, and first responders. 

Together, we talk about the power of social impact storytelling, handwritten notes as a killer retention strategy, and how you can craft a successful, high-touch monthly giving program.

Monthly giving programs create a culture of impact.

We all want to be a part of something bigger, so it’s absolutely magical to see the power of monthly giving programs in action. It’s a beautiful thing to create a culture of impact by connecting your donors and their donations directly to the causes.

For Chive Charities, it’s been a game changer.

They have donors who joined their monthly giving program several years ago at $10-$25 a month. Some of them give $500 per month now, creating a pipeline for major gifts. It also proves a point that monthly givers often donate more over time than someone gifting a one-time amount.

For donors who stick with you at the same level for years on end, it’s awesome to have the opportunity to celebrate their commitment and recurring gifts. Chive Charities does this by inviting donors into different milestone benefits. Since they’ve been such an important part of your story, taking the time to illustrate what their impact has been as a monthly donor is HUGE.

Inside Chive Charities donor acquisition strategy. 

When it comes to crafting a successful monthly giving program like the Green Ribbon Fund, Erika points back to storytelling as inspiration for monthly donor conversions. Chive Charities supports veterans, first responders, military families, and individuals with rare medical conditions with what they call “life-changing grants.”

Each quarter, they review applications from deserving families and then share a couple of their stories each week. It’s so heart-wrenching to not be able to say yes to everyone, so they invite their community into that very real reality, encouraging them to change more lives by being a part of their monthly giving program.

Think of your donor campaigns similarly to a more traditional marketing campaign:

Who is your target audience?

Do you have a newsletter list?

One-time donors? Inactive or canceled monthly donors?

Your communication with each one of those audiences is going to be different. Consider your call-to-action and ultimate delivery method. Where will you promote this? Will you leverage social media or other partners? 

Honoring the different giving levels and sustaining strong retention

If your organization can engage donors with meaningful stewardship and retention tactics, then the retention of those donors will increase DRAMATICALLY.

At Chive Charities, regardless of whether someone is donating $10 a month or $100 a month, they’re getting an individualized welcome text from them. Using Google Voice keeps them on their toes, as messages can’t be copied and pasted. It forces their team to be more high-touch and creative in their outreach.

If a donor downgrades, say from $100 a month to $25 per month, they get a handwritten card in the mail. Erika says she can’t say enough about the power of a handwritten card. Even in my own monthly giving experiences, I’ve been impressed anytime I’ve received something handwritten in the mail. That personalized interaction goes so far. 

To help donors feel seen and acknowledged in a very personal way is a massively impactful retention tactic because it’s an opportunity for you to tell them exactly how they’ve contributed to your mission and impact.

Imagine hearing that you’ve impacted 275 recipients with life changing aid. You’d absolutely believe your impact had been critical, right? 

Erika’s Ask

If you are somebody who is passionate about major gifts, Erika would love to chat and hear about your best practices. You can connect with her at erika@chivecharities.org

Notable Quotes from Erika

“Monthly giving across the board is worth investing in. The impact of a successful program is a game changer, whether you’re a big nonprofit or a small nonprofit, and I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.”

“We launched platinum level – it was $200 and above. And within three months, we had 131 platinum level donors donating $200, $300, $500. And even $1,000 a month! Some of those were new donors, but many of them were upgrades and that number continues to grow. Today it makes up 20% of our annual revenue.”

Resources & Links

Learn more about Erika’s work at Chive Charities and connect with her on LinkedIn or via email at erika@chivecharities.org

If you’ve been waiting for a sign to start your monthly giving program, this is it. 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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