Optimizing your year-end sustainer push with predictive analytics

November 18, 2021 | Grace Duginski
Optimizing Your Year-End Sustainer Push with Predictive Analytics

Doing a sustainer push at year-end can be a unique and effective choice for nonprofits who want to focus on cultivating regular donor revenue for both the short term and the long term. One way to optimize your recurring donor campaigns is with the power of predictive analytics—here’s what nonprofits should know now.

Why should nonprofits grow their sustainer programs?

Higher lifetime values

While every dollar takes you one step closer to fully funding your mission, your sustainers’ high lifetime values set them apart from your one-time donors. Sustainers give for 5 times as long, and 2.5 times as much, as one-time donors—a remarkable difference. One reason sustainer values are over twice as high as one-time donor values is the low barrier to entry for participation in a recurring gift program: a smaller gift every month is often far more financially feasible for more of your prospective donors than a large, lump-sum gift once per year. When each gift is a manageable amount, giving month after month is a much more straightforward decision for your donors.

Stronger retention

Donor retention has long been a challenge for nonprofit fundraisers, but sustainer programs can help reduce donor lapse and increase retention. Monthly giving is most often digital—and given that the M+R 2021 Benchmarks report that total online revenue grew by an “extraordinary” 32% in 2020, digital fundraising is clearly on an upward trajectory. Sustaining gift programs are also at their best when they’re automated, meaning donors can relax and enjoy knowing they’re making a difference, the same day of each month. Lastly, nonprofits have a number of tactics and opportunities for creating a smooth recurring donor experience: utilizing tools like a credit card updater means nonprofits can minimize gift interruptions for monthly donors; automated receipts and acknowledgments mean donors can have the peace of mind that each of their gifts was processed as expected; and self-service pages mean that donors can alter a recurring gift without needing to wait for a nonprofit staffer to help them.

Longer relationships

We mentioned that sustainers tend to give for five times as long as one-time donors—but that kind of long-term donor relationship leads to additional opportunities outside of their existing monthly commitment. One example? Planned giving—new data from the biannual Health and Retirement Study show that one of the ten key traits for estate gift targeting is “consistency in donating,” defined by that study as “the share of all survey years in which the respondent indicated donating at least $500 to charity.” Making a modest monthly commitment can be an important step toward the kind of consistent financial generosity that’s correlated with estate giving. Additionally, donors who make sustaining gifts may be primed to take other actions in support of your work, like volunteering or taking advocacy actions, because of their existing emotional connection to your mission—why limit your supporters to only one identity with you?

Long story short, sustainers are prime candidates for building vibrant relationships with your organization, and their longer donor lifetimes and higher lifetime values set you up for success not only at year-end but far into the future.

How should nonprofits use predictive analytics to boost their sustainer programs?

Fundraising Optimization Guide

With the power of predictive analytics, fundraisers can easily identify prospects most likely to become sustaining donors and target them with specific, personalized outreach. Predictive analytics-powered segmentation takes thousands of data points into account with just the click of a button, enabling fundraisers to optimize campaign results without spending extra time or effort on segmentation.

EveryAction’s Fundraising Optimization Guide is a great place to get started with predictive analytics. Using this feature, fundraisers can model different futures for their sustainer programs—all without needing to spend precious time on calculations or hand-selecting the right donors from your database.

What would happen if you recruited as few as ten new sustainers, while also limiting sustainer attrition and increasing your average sustainer gift by a small percentage? These granular strategic changes, fueled by your Fundraising Optimization Guide, can create a meaningful impact on your revenue not only at year-end, but also in years to come.

Other powerful strategies for growing your sustainer program now and for years to come

First, send regular invitations to your list of donors most likely to become sustainers—as our friends at Interactive Strategies told us, it’s important to remind supporters in any way you can that you have a monthly donor program, and you want them to be part of it.

Use a sustainer upsell lightbox to capture donors’ attention. Redirecting donors and offering them the opportunity to join your monthly giving program, and presenting that information in a focused way, can create a long-term impact on your fundraising revenue.

Pay special attention to donors who, according to your predictive analytics, are most likely to upgrade their monthly gifts or end their monthly commitments. As we’ve said before, in the past you may have begun a fundraising campaign by saying, “it’s July, so it’s time for the sustainer invite, because this is when we always do the sustainer invite.” Moving forward, fundraisers will need to make data-informed decisions about the right time to make the right ask of the right supporter, so instead you’ll say, “Susan’s predictive analytics score indicates that she is likely to become a sustainer right now, so we need to ask her now.”

Consider taking your fundraising sustainer-first. With the right preparation, donation page design, and person-to-person support, taking your fundraising sustainer-first doesn’t need to be confusing. Done right, it can actually lead to a higher number of satisfied donors who get to enjoy the immediacy, accessibility, and easy experience of an automated monthly gift, while also having the peace of mind that they’re helping you make a difference every month and potentially for years to come—just ask the Audubon Society, who took their fundraising sustainer-first with EveryAction and increased their annual sustainer revenue by a factor of fifteen.

And last, target many different donor segments with sustainer asks—younger generations, like millennials, may be especially receptive to a monthly gift because of the financial accessibility and familiar once-per-month format, but Gen X and other generations and demographic segments may also value the ease of experience that comes with a regular, automatically-recurring gift.

Building and maintaining your sustainer program means you’ll need support from a platform where you can see every step a supporter has taken on their journey with you. Download our complete guide to optimizing your year-end fundraising with predictive analytics, and talk to us to learn how you can fuel your fundraising with a unified platform and predictive analytics.