Raising More Money: What Flossing Taught Me About Monthly Giving

Are you sitting down? What I have to say in this post may be profoundly shocking for many of you. 


I really love going to the dentist.


It’s true. I’ve been going to the same dental practice since I was 15. And it’s also true that I grew up privileged with parents able to afford regular dental care and braces for me.  I always had good toothbrushes, dental floss, and an avocado green Waterpik for those terrible two years in braces. So I had a very good head start in consistent dental hygiene, which makes for fewer crowns and other unpleasantness. 


As it turns out, consistency can also play a major role in raising more money to help more good things happen in the communities you serve. 


Daily flossing. Monthly giving. They’ve got more in common than you might think.


One thing that can protect from dental emergencies is flossing. While I’m not a dental hygienist or play one on TV, I do coach nonprofits to financial stability through fundraising and grant seeking. Establishing and/or growing a loyal base of monthly givers helps stabilize nonprofits. Donors committing to $5 a month or $500 a month are more likely to keep giving and deepen their engagement with your mission.


Global pandemics, national reckonings with systemic racism, severe economic downturns, natural disasters, and other emergencies have devastated entire states and communities, and the nonprofits that serve them. Many, but not all foundations, pivoted their giving to COVID relief, which is understandable and even laudable. But instead of COVID relief in addition to their regular grant cycles, it’s been instead of regular grant cycles, leaving many organizations that are not frontline responders scrambling to get operations going.  


Grants can help start, augment, enhance, construct, renovate important projects, such as a new road, a bigger park, better access to healthcare or cleaning and sanitizing equipment. But for sustaining day-to-day operations for nonprofits, individual giving remains the largest section of the fundraising pie. 


Monthly giving has the highest donor retention rate of any regular fundraising activity according to Network for Good. Retention rates for new donors average less than 23%. The average retention rate for monthly giving programs tops 80% in the first year, and 95% after five years. 


It’s that consistency in giving that can help your organization weather financial storms, but monthly giving requires some basic systems in place to truly succeed.


  1. Thank and engage monthly donors frequently. Emails, cards, handwritten notes, a quick video, or a phone call can build and strengthen that connection.
  2. Check monthly giving records for expired credit cards, and reach out to those donors to renew their giving.
  3. Create special access, volunteer opportunities (using social distancing), or other ways to engage that are just for monthly donors.


Noted fundraising guru Pamela Grow shared some great tips on monthly giving in the latest episode of Season 3 of the Fundraising HayDay podcast.  She talked with co-host Amanda Day and me about monthly giving and how vital it is to practice donor gratitude frequently and consistently. 


In fact, she would probably describe monthly giving as a good habit for an organization to form. Give it some thought while you’re flossing. Your dentist will thank you. 


DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC is so excited to be season 3 sponsors for Fundraising HayDay, a podcast about grants and such. Catch up on season 1 & 2 and stay up to date on the new season here.

Don’t let grants stress you out, check out the helpful grant writing services our team has to offer here.

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