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Digital fundraising must-haves: Sustainer upsell lightbox

September 27, 2022
This photo of a smiling young woman holding a credit card and typing on a laptop represents the concept of a sustainer upsell lightbox.

For nonprofit organizations, the key to fundraising success is sustainability. Recurring donations are an important method of sustainable fundraising as they allow your nonprofit to bring in consistent revenue from your monthly donors—which is why these donors are also known as sustainers.

Online fundraising is also essential to keep supporters engaged in the digital age. Sustainer upsell lightboxes combine the need for recurring donations and digital asks into a single, user-friendly tool. To help you get started, this guide will cover what a sustainer upsell lightbox is, why it’s beneficial, and how you can make the most of it for your nonprofit’s fundraising.

What is a sustainer upsell lightbox?

A sustainer upsell lightbox is a pop-up box that appears during the online donation process to make a pitch for converting a one-time contribution into a monthly gift. Although the monthly gift amount is smaller than the initial donation, those monthly gifts will add up to a larger annual contribution. 

For example, if a donor who used to give $200 annually chose to make a $20 monthly donation instead, your organization would receive an additional $40 from them over a 12-month period. To convince them to become a monthly donor, the message in your sustainer upsell lightbox could look something like this:

"Monthly giving is one of the best ways to sustain our programs throughout the year, and it’s a more convenient way to make a bigger impact over time. Before we process your one-time gift, will you consider converting it to a smaller monthly gift of $20 instead?"

Why should nonprofits use sustainer upsell lightboxes?

Sustainer upsell lightboxes are an effective tactic for converting one-time donors to recurring donors. These conversions help nonprofits improve donor retention rates and increase fundraising revenue long-term.

Some additional benefits of using sustainer upsell lightboxes to promote recurring gifts include:

  • Navigating fundraising during times of economic uncertaintyWhen economic challenges arise, fundraisers often wonder how to engage donors with appropriate asks, especially those who aren’t major donors. Giving a smaller amount each month can lower barriers to giving for donors who may find themselves with less disposable income than expected.
  • Securing long-term support during major campaigns. Many people default to making one-time gifts, especially on high-traffic days like GivingTuesday. Upsell lightboxes can be especially effective on busy giving days, as they educate new and returning donors alike on the importance of recurring gifts without cluttering your donation page.
  • Leaning into the trend of recurring giving. According toM+R’s Benchmarks for 2022, nonprofits’ revenue from monthly giving increased by 11% from 2021 and accounted for 28% of all online donation revenue. Recurring giving is becoming more and more popular, which means now might be the right time to start or grow your nonprofit’s program.

Recurring donations also help your nonprofit manage its finances more effectively. Individual donations often peak during giving days and fundraising events and die down in between. Being able to rely on recurring donors’ contributions each month helps ensure you have enough revenue to cover all of your organization’s expenses and further your purpose throughout the entire year.

How can my nonprofit make the most of sustainer upsell lightboxes?

Getting the most value out of a sustainer upsell lightbox requires a solid strategy. Here are three tips to help your nonprofit fine-tune its approach:

Segment your supporters

Any donor who gives online can be served with a sustainer upsell lightbox. This means whether you’re sharing your forms across email marketing, digital ads, social media, or SMS, you can easily ask donors to consider monthly giving.

That being said, it’s important to target the right supporters with this tool. Small to mid-level donors who have engaged with your organization a few times are most likely to be interested in monthly giving, and each of them will be most receptive to different-sized fundraising asks. Segmenting your donors and sending each one the right ask at the right time will help improve conversion rates for your monthly giving program.

Carefully craft your messages

When you’re writing the message donors will see in your sustainer upsell lightbox, it’s important to remember two things. First, you have limited space to make your case. Second, joining your monthly giving program could be a supporter’s first step in a lifelong relationship with your organization.

Make sure your message is concise—an introductory paragraph of about 50 words plus buttons allowing supporters to opt-in or out usually does the trick. At the same time, it’s important to remind donors of their connection with your purpose and clearly explain what their recurring gift helps your organization accomplish.

Consider the entire donor experience

Sustainer upsell lightboxes help streamline sign-ups for your monthly giving program, but it’s important to take additional steps to make the process as easy as possible for supporters. Think about all of the ways you can give your donors a simple, convenient sustainer giving experience on your online forms, such as:

  • Using self-service giving pages so donors can change their gift amount and timing if needed.
  • Enabling one-click donations to improve gift completion rates.
  • Leveraging a credit card updater so busy staff don’t need to go back and forth with donors to make changes to their payment information.

The right constituent relationship management (CRM) solution and fundraising software will allow your organization to track the necessary data to monitor your monthly giving program experience, from donors’ contact information to sustainer upsell lightbox conversion rates. An integrated system like Bonterra Donor Engagement’s Fundraising solution (formerly EveryAction) keeps all of this data in one place for easy access and analysis.

The bottom line on sustainer upsell lightboxes

Sustainer upsell lightboxes help nonprofits grow their recurring giving programs and raise more funds in a more predictable way. Strategically planning and testing this tool can help you make the most of it and even give your busy staff time back in their day. If you’re ready to strengthen your nonprofit's sustainer program and increase your revenue with an upsell lightbox, invest in a unified solution like Bonterra Fundraising.

Looking for more ways to improve your nonprofit’s digital fundraising? Download our guide, 3 strategies to boost year-end fundraising, for tested techniques that convert volunteers into donors, increase your fundraising efficiency, and help bring in more revenue.

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