5 Reasons Why Sustainers Are More Important Now Than Ever

June 22, 2020  |  Richard Gabrintina

Sustainers have long been an important revenue stream for nonprofits, and in 2020 this has become even more clear. Here are five reasons that sustainers are more important than ever, and easy next steps that you can take to build a strong sustainer program:

1. Sustainers are a reliable stream of income

Sustainers help make planning and budgeting easier during tumultuous periods and economic uncertainty, because they’re a reliable stream of income. Building and maintaining a sustainer program is one of the best ways that your nonprofit can mitigate the effects of financial turbulence and know that you’ll have income every month.

Next steps: Prime your donation pages to maximize sustainer conversions! Start with our Sustainer Essentials Checklist to make sure your website is doing the work of attracting sustainers for you.

2. Sustainers help your nonprofit harness moments of grassroots energy for long-term support

When your organization or issue area is in the media, you probably see a burst of supporter energy, with new people eager to get involved and support the cause. It is important that your organization is prepared to harness this enthusiasm and turn it into long-term support. By pushing for sustaining donors, you’ll keep benefitting from increased awareness long after the news cycle has moved on.

Next steps: Let your donors do the work for you. During an influx of support when you’re especially busy, using a self-service portal where supporters can update their contact information and preferences can help you stay on top everything else.

3. Being a sustainer is an economical way to make a big difference

Even during economic uncertainty, supporters’ devotion to the causes they believe in doesn’t wain. It might be more feasible for some, especially millennials and Gen Z, to give a smaller donation each month rather than a large sum at the end of the year.

Next steps: Use a lightbox on your donation pages to tell one-time donors about the impact that monthly gifts have on your work and ask them to consider a smaller, monthly gift instead.

4. They have a higher lifetime donor value than one-time givers

In our fast-paced world, it can be easy to focus on your next fundraising deadline, and figure out the rest later. Sustainers have a higher lifetime donor value than one-time donors, meaning that not only do they benefit your bottom line right now, but they’ll give more to your organization over time than they would have otherwise.

Next steps: Good donor cultivation is key to ensuring high lifetime donor value. Use automation to help streamline thank-you messages and program updates to your sustaining donors to make donors feel appreciated and committed for long-term support.

5. They’re your biggest promoters

Because sustainers deeply care about your mission, they’re your organization’s biggest promoters. In addition to regularly giving gifts, sustainers are often sharing your mission across social media platforms and letting their network know they support your cause. For many, it’s rewarding to give monthly contributions, but being able to share the cause that matter the most to sustainers is a reward on its own.

Next steps: Allow your sustainers and supporters to easily share links across different social media platforms. This includes building in a quick, convenient button to share right after donating or in a thank-you email after an automatic gift has been processed.

Looking for more ways to build and improve relationships with sustainers? Download our Sustainer Essentials Guide and Checklist ebook, containing both a beginner’s and advanced guide to optimizing your sustainer program.