The Must-Have Accessory for Your Monthly Giving Program

June 28, 2017 Kendra DeWitt

1,200,000,000. That’s how many credit cards were in circulation in the United States in 2015. Surprising, right? Even more remarkable is that over 80 percent, or about 1,000,000,000, of those cards lacked smart-chip technology when the EMV liability shift was first introduced.

Since then, banks have been replacing magnetic-stripe cards with chip-enabled cards in record numbers. This has left everyone—including nonprofits—struggling to maintain accurate data.

In Sustainers in Focus Part 2, the Blackbaud Institute provided six best practices for building and maintaining successful monthly giving programs. Included is one designed specifically to help you manage credit card re-issuance: “use a credit card updater service and update invalid credit card data”.

What’s a credit card updater service?

Credit card updater services aren’t new. In fact, if you’re a Netflix subscriber, you’ve likely been enrolled in one without even knowing it. Major card brands—including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover—provide merchants with new payment information electronically. This data is securely passed between the card brand and the merchant and includes updated credit card numbers and expiration dates.

Why is this important to your monthly giving program?

As you know all too well, time and resources are scarce. If you can automate a task that requires a person—or team—to complete and redirect those efforts to acquiring new sustainers, you’re already ahead of the game.

In addition, when a recurring payment fails to process due to outdated credit card information, your philanthropic organization loses revenue. Reducing the number of declined transactions means money in your pocket. It also means you’re not putting your constituent relationships at risk. In many cases, simply reaching out to donors to request new payment data can prompt them to end their financial support.

How can you quantify the benefits?

Using a credit card updater service will save you time and money. How much depends on how big your sustainer program is and how often you engage your constituents. For example, World Food Program USA was able to recapture $177,000 in one year alone at a total cost of just around $460!

Dan Reed, Director, Digital Fundraising & Engagement at World Food Program USA, knew how important it was to develop a dependable revenue source for his organization through sustained giving so he:

  • Created a series of targeted email appeals
  • Implemented a website lightbox asking donors to opt in to monthly giving
  • Invited existing sustainers to increase their giving levels
  • Subscribed to Blackbaud’s Credit Card Updater service

“The Credit Card Updater service has freed me from worrying about sustainer attrition related to payment processing failures,” explains Reed. “Rarely do I enjoy signing invoices, but this is the one $30 invoice that I absolutely love signing off on!”

And, Dan’s experience is not unique. In the first three months of using Blackbaud’s Credit Card Updater service, Santa Clara University processed $20,000 on updated cards and saved almost 40 hours of administrative time—time that would have otherwise been spent on donor outreach. With 23 percent of its sustainers’ credit cards updated in 10 months, Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation saved 7 hours a month chasing down lapsed donors.

The numbers don’t lie. With results like these, it’s easy to see how a credit card updater service can help you manage your recurring giving program and reduce disruptions in monthly giving.

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