Two words: Lifetime value
Ok – it’s a little more complicated than that. But understanding lifetime value is where a successful sustainer strategy starts.
Too often organizations don’t recognize the tension between lifetime value and immediate budget goals. They want a sustainer strategy to increase their donor pool’s lifetime value, but they don’t want to sacrifice immediate revenue in the door.
Rather that get that $15 a month gift (which averages to $180 in year one alone), they prefer the one-time gift of $100 because it looks better on the balance sheet for February.
Internal attribution wars further complicate things. One group I work with actually attributes online sustainer revenue to an offline sustainer pool – disincentivizing the online team from deploying a sustainer strategy (e.g. disincentivizng increasing the value of a donor).
Before you start listing out all of the tactics for soliciting new sustainers (of which there are many), first ask yourself:
- Is my organization judging the success of this program by lifetime value?
- Do we have the dashboard in place to track and report clearly on lifetime value?
- Do we understand the tension between lifetime value and immediate ROI?
- What are our business rules for attribution? How can we incentivize everyone to increase donor lifetime value?
Once you answer these questions, you’ll be better prepared to develop and optimize a sustainer program.