Between Giving Tuesday and the holidays, the last two months of the year are absolutely crucial for nonprofit marketers striving to reach their end-of-year fundraising goals. But what happens when the holidays are over, January 1st hits, and the annual fundraising total drops back to 0? How can nonprofit marketers continue to drive donations beyond the traditional giving season?
One Emma customer, charity: water, found a solution to this perennial problem with a monthly giving program: The Spring.
The Spring: a subscription-based model for charitable giving
Since 2006, charity: water has funded over 24,000 water projects in 24 countries, bringing clean drinking water to over 7.3 million people. They also operate on a revolutionary charity model in which 100% of public donations fund water projects, not operations. The Spring, their recurring giving program, allows people to support these projects year-round through an automated donation each month.
“The Spring is fairly new for us,” said Stephania Quiroz, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing at charity: water. “We officially launched The Spring in August 2016, focused on creating and fostering a community of people that subscribed to a world without dirty water.”
The program was built not just to innovate on the giving experiences offered, but also to combat a problem many nonprofits face: Each January, the charity: water team had to start over when it came to their fundraising efforts. However, with the addition of a recurring giving program, they now have a reliable, trackable stream of donations coming in all year long from their most loyal supporters.
“We currently have over 11,700 subscribers in The Spring,” said Stephania. “We’ve been able to grow the program more than 95% over the past year. Email marketing is our primary channel for engaging with our subscribers, sharing stories from the field, and connecting them to their impact.”
Exclusive content for an unparalleled donor experience
One way they continually engage their subscribers is with exclusive content. For instance, they recently launched a private video series for The Spring called “The Journey.”
“One aspect of The Spring brand is that we want it to feel unique and curated for our subscribers,” said Stephania. “We love to share stories about the work we do, and we want to bring our subscribers as close to their impact as possible. The first season of The Journey features our work in Cambodia, the beneficiaries, and our local partners – efforts that our monthly donors are helping support through their contributions.”
“The Journey” video content was emailed out weekly, and it’s only available to The Spring members.
Automation: A personal touch at scale
The charity: water team also leverages email marketing automation to help them connect personally with each recurring donor – minus the heavy lifting required to actually email each person one by one.
“Every month, we create an email for Spring members where we share stories from the field. When their credit card is charged for their monthly gift, an email is triggered telling them how their contribution is changing lives around the world that month. We diversify the stories we share to connect Spring members to the work from various standpoints, such as from a local partner or beneficiary perspective.”
That level of transparency and authenticity is absolutely central to the charity: water model, so it only makes sense they’d want to reinforce those values with their most loyal supporters.
Their advice for other nonprofit marketers?
Stephania was quick to note that the first year since launching The Spring has been a learning process for the charity: water team.
“The best advice I can give for other nonprofits wanting to run a recurring donation program: Listen to your subscribers. We send out surveys and conduct interviews with our monthly donors to learn what they want from their experience. It’s important for any type of subscription, but for a nonprofit in particular, understanding what donors are interested in and why they chose your cause is key. Using that information to personalize the experience of our donors is what we strive for.”
It’s a lesson all nonprofit marketers must learn: Personalization is powerful. More importantly, it’s how organizations can build a loyal base of donors for months – even years – to come, regardless of what season it is.
Interested in learning more about The Spring? Check out the details here.