Growing Your Monthly Donor Program through Digital Promotion: A Case Study

September 20th, 2022

Are monthly donors worth more time and strategic investment?

The Newport ONE team says “Yes!” and here are a few reasons why.

1- Monthly donors, also known as sustainers, are almost always more valuable to nonprofits. Their donations, although often smaller, add up significantly over time resulting in a higher donor lifetime value (the total amount of money a donor gives over their entire time of giving to an organization) than many annual donors. Plus a portion of them (23% according to a report by will make additional one-time gifts above and beyond their monthly support.

2- Sustainers are usually the most loyal donor group for nonprofits. The average retention rate for monthly donors is often 90+% which is nearly double the average overall donor retention rate.

3- Monthly donors make excellent planned giving/bequest prospects. Loyalty and trust are among the key factors for securing a planned gift and sustainers top the list of donors with these qualities.

It would make sense that with all the “pluses” a monthly giving program brings to the table that organizations would want to focus on growing their sustainer base. To this end, Newport ONE decided to conduct our own internal study of one organization’s monthly donor program growth and the resulting increase in income.

For this case study, our team worked with a client on a focused, strategic approach using digital media to promote their monthly donor program overall and also upgrade existing sustainers. The plan included initiating various strategies to grow the monthly donor file including:

a targeted, “prospecting” email series deployed throughout the year to attract new monthly donors;
integrated digital graphics on the organization’s website and social media;
an email series to current monthly donors asking them to increase their monthly gift amount;
testing the suggested giving amounts to find the optimal ask; and
a website pop-up/lightbox deployed several times during the year to drive increased sustainer giving as well as upgrade existing monthly donors.

Overall, the organization experienced a steady increase in monthly donors over the test time period, with an overall increase of 23% in the number of sustainers and a 25% increase in revenue.

Our test of a lower initial first and second ask amount ($10, $20, $50) versus a slightly higher first and second ask ($12, $25, $50) yielded interesting results! The lower ask amounts converted more people to sign up as monthly donors without lowering the overall average gift.

Investing more heavily in a monthly giving program is definitely a strategy nonprofit organizations should consider. One of the more effective ways to reach potential new sustainers and current monthly donors is digital marketing (emails, website promotion, social media promotion, etc.). Phone calls work well too.

To build a strong sustainer program, nonprofits need to be willing to play the “long game” and understand that growth in monthly giving programs is usually slow but steady. While the “wins” are not immediate, the long-term payoff is substantial!

Interested in learning more about how Newport ONE can help your organization launch or build a monthly giving program? Reach out to us and let’s talk!

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