Ten Ways to Take Your Sustainer Program to the Next Level

Problem Statement

Your organization has several hundred monthly donors, and you have a good grasp of the basics of running a monthly giving program. But how do you take it to the next level? Get tips on sustainer recruitment, cultivation, upgrading, and retention.

You’ve gotten your sustainer program off the ground and are beyond Monthly Giving 101, and now you’d like to focus on growing your monthly giving base. Food & Water Watch and Share Our Strength have both recently taken their sustainer programs from small to mid-sized, and have learned a lot along the way.

We have worked hard to learn what works best from a monthly donor perspective. We analyzed recruitment, retention, cultivation, and upgrade tactics and made improvements to each that we’d now like to share with others!

We will share advice on:

  • Multichannel recruitment strategies, including email, social media, and telemarketing
  • Keeping your sustainers once you have them
  • Getting your sustainers to increase their monthly gifts
  • Making sure your monthly donors feel appreciated
  • Tracking and reporting on your growth
  • Running tests before you begin a campaign
Alex Patton
Food & Water Watch
Monthly Giving Manager
Alex Patton is the Monthly Giving Manager at Food & Water Watch. In addition to the overseeing the monthly giving program, Alex helps the development department with writing and editing. Prior to focusing on monthly giving at Food & Water Watch, he managed foundation relationship and workplace giving campaigns. Before joining Food & Water Watch, Alex worked for National Consumers League in Washington, DC. Alex holds a B.A. in sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Chris Brooks

Caitlin Seeley George
Food & Water Watch

Caitlin Seeley George is the Online Fundraising Strategist for Food & Water Watch, based in Denver. She works to optimize our online fundraising - recruiting new donors and cultivating a connection with our supporters. She has also worked on state, local and federal campaigns to ban fracking, keep our food safe and ensure everyone has access to safe, affordable drinking water. Before joining Food & Water Watch she ran the direct mail department for the Fund for the Public Interest, developing and executing fundraising and outreach campaigns for more than 60 environmental and consumer rights nonprofits. Caitlin also worked as a field organizer with Environment America and Green Corps, a one-year training program in environmental organizing and advocacy. Caitlin got her Bachelor of Arts at Oberlin College, where she double majored in politics and English.