Increase Your Sustainer Retention Before Year-End 2020 In 4 Easy Steps

August 14, 2020 | EveryAction Team
Increase Your Sustainer Retention Before Year-End 2020 In 4 Easy Steps

Fall is an important time for fundraising, and in 2020, for many nonprofits it will be more important than ever. While this year has been uniquely challenging for many organizations, there are still areas that show growth and promise, which will be especially important to lean into during fall fundraising. According to analysis by Ben Miller of EveryAction’s Donor Trends, data from the first six months of this year shows that 2020 has been one of the best years on record for growing sustainer programs, and in fact, June 2020 saw the greatest sustainer program growth of the last 36 months. 

The benefits of sustainers to organizations are well established – they give for 5 times as long, and 2.5 times as much as one-time donors.  

Attracting monthly donors is only half of our work – it’s important to retain them over the long term in order to see these increases in lifetime donor value. If you only make one change to your sustainer program before year-end 2020, make it these four simple steps to increasing your sustainer retention. 

1. Credit card updater 

Almost everyone on the commercial market is using an automated credit card updater (think all of your monthly subscriptions, whether they’re digital services or regular deliveries), and it’s time for nonprofits to jump on this train as well. These services will automatically retrieve updated credit card numbers when a card is reissued by the bank, meaning you won’t need to worry about donors lapsing because of a lost, stolen, or expired card.  

2. Self-service portal 

For those times when a credit card updater may not apply, offering a self-service portal where donors can update their own credit card or contact information will also go a long way toward saving time and revenue for you, and keeping donors happy (many may prefer the simplicity of updating their own information online, rather than making a phone call). 

3. Automated email series 

Email automation is one of your best friends when it comes to retaining and renewing sustainers. Set up a series of emails that are triggered when a monthly donor has lapsed, and you’ll never have to worry about being late with your outreach to them. Your email series should direct them to the self-service portal and also offer instructions on contacting donor services, making it as easy as possible for your donors to get into contact with you. 

4. Text messaging 

Don’t underestimate the power of reaching out via new channels, especially in a year where many people may be working and living in different locations than they were before. Mobile Messaging is a great way to get a donor’s attention, especially if email and mail haven’t worked. Include a link to your self-service portal in the text message so that your donor can update their information immediately, right from their phone. 


Want more expert advice on how to boost your sustainer program for 2020 fall fundraising? EveryAction Executive Director, Melissa Wyers, covers this and more in our live webinar: Sustainer Growth and Retention (Without Hiring More Staff), which you can watch on-demand now!