We all know how important regular supporters are in helping charities build core funding, plan ahead and budget for the future. But could you be doing more to make the most of your Direct Debit programme?
If regular giving really matters to your charity, tell supporters about it and promote it across all your communication channels and appeals. Explain why Direct Debit donations really matter, what they enable you to achieve and how to go about it. Use examples to convey what their donation might enable your charity to achieve over one year, five years and more.
Supporters trust your charity to handle their money professionally and securely, so you need to be 100% confident that your payment processing is completely reliable. Ensure your payment processing service incorporates a validation service to check supporters’ bank details at the point of sign up to avoid errors, delays and failed payments.
Avoid cumbersome Direct Debit forms, making it as easy as possible for people to sign up and support you. Integrate Direct Debit sign up into your website. Keep the Direct Debit application process as simple as possible, but always make sure that taxpayers have the option to Gift Aid their donation.
Half of the population now use mobile banking and, increasingly, people are choosing to initiate regular payments online. This makes it all the more important that Direct Debit webpages are mobile optimised. Consider offering a simplified version of your giving pages for mobile donors on small screens to complete transactions on the move.
It’s just as important that you test your Direct Debit forms, webpages and processes as it is your fundraising appeals. Explore the impact of different messaging, imagery and layouts, trialling a range of suggested gift values and the order in which they appear (highest to lowest or vice versa). Try offering different payment dates or giving supporters the opportunity to name their preferred date. The results can vary extensively from charity to charity, so testing what works for your supporter base is critical.
Set up dedicated online giving pages for specific appeals. This will enable you to tailor your ask and gift level to the campaign, often increasing sign up rates and gift amounts. It also makes it even easier to track the progress of each appeal.
It goes without saying, but it’s vital to start your supporter relationship on the right foot. So, make sure you thank supporters promptly after they sign up. An immediate automated and personalised email is a great way to confirm the gift details, to initiate efficient processing and, of course, to engage supporters while their decision is fresh, showing how much you value their gift.
Tailor your communication schedule around each phase of a supporter’s payment journey. Beyond the initial thank you message, why not set up an automated messaging or trigger communications programme triggered by key anniversary dates from when your supporter first signed up? This frees you up to spend more time on nurturing that relationship over the long-term and to identify future touchpoints to re-engage with supporters and potentially upgrade their donation.
The temptation is often to leave long-term givers alone, with the exception of a handful of emails or letters throughout the year. But it’s important to monitor retention just as closely as it is an acquisition. When a donor recruitment campaign fails to attract long-term donors, you might tweak the ask, promote it via other channels or even pull the campaign altogether. Similarly, regular reviews of Direct Debit donors will flag up peaks and troughs in cancellations during the year. Explore why that might be and whether you could be doing something differently. A well-timed personalised message to supporters ahead of a peak cancellation period might be all it takes to reignite their passion.
Provide regular touchpoints to encourage your supporters to share their thoughts with you across a variety of different channels. Let them know that you’re open to feedback and keen to hear your thoughts so that you can share positive comments with the team and tackle any negatives. Make sure your supporters know you’re listening, responding promptly to what they say. Consider giving supporters a platform like Control My Payment where they can adjust the amount of their gift, payment dates and even take a payment holiday when money might be tight so as to avoid cancellation.
Rapidata’s Managed Direct Debit Service and eDirectDebit platform have been developed specifically to support the needs of the not for profit sector. Providing fast, reliable and secure payment processing, we also provide an online platform to monitor and manage payments, integration with your own database systems and communications schedule, and regular reporting enabling you to focus on meeting the needs of your beneficiaries. Find out more and contact our expert team today.