Membership Vs. Monthly Giving

Dear Kim:

We are in the middle of a debate in our organization regarding the next step to take. What are the clear differences between monthly giving and membership programs? Does one favor a different demographic?

-Comparing Apples and Orange Juice

Dear Fruity:

Monthly giving is a strategy that allows people to give bigger gifts by spreading the payment of the gift out over several months. People who want to do more for an organization often love a monthly giving program, as it is a fairly painless way to become a significant donor. A monthly giving program can be offered to members, to donors, to major donors, and it is not at all in opposition to membership. They complement each other; in fact, one is usually a strategy for promoting the other. The idea of membership appeals to people who want to have a feeling of ownership in the organization. In some membership groups, such as unions, the members are involved in all the decisions that are made (or should be, anyway.) In others, a member is largely a name describing a donor. (What a member means is established in the by-laws of the organization.)

I would step back from this “debate” and figure out what you are arguing about. Do you have a demographic you are trying to reach? If so, ask people who do a good job reaching that group what strategies they use and what they avoid. Don’t ever spend a lot of time debating something. Instead step away and ask, “What is really the question here?”

Good luck!

-Kim Klein