Building a recurring donor program that works: A conversation with charity: water

Building a recurring donor program that works: A conversation with charity: water

February 19, 2020
39 minutes

Tyler Riewer · Brand Content Lead, charity: water | Join this conversation with Tyler Riewer and Justin Wheeler, CEO and Co-founder of Funraise, about building and maintaining a recurring donor program. Engage your donors and increase loyalty, reduce attrition, lower operation costs, and establish a more predictable revenue stream with this one proven fundraising strategy.


You already know why a recurring giving program is so important to your organization, but do you know how to get started? What are the most critical components? How do you measure your program's success?

Tyler and Justin discuss best practices for building and maintaining a recurring donor program that'll engage your donors and increase loyalty, reduce attrition, lower operation costs, and establish a more predictable revenue stream.

Tyler plays an instrumental role in the strategy behind charity: water's monthly giving program; he'll share his most valuable secrets to inspire people to give every single month. Hear how charity: water has not only built a community of donors, but has helped influence the future of charitable giving by building a cultural legacy for generations to come.


Justin: First off, thank you so much for agreeing to share with us a little bit more about charity: water and specifically about the work you guys are doing in the field. And, you know, the process in which you're raising funds, I think it's really inspiring for nonprofits in general. Actually, you know, I haven't told you this yet, but it's one of the reasons why I started Funraise. When I started following charity: water I was amazed at the technology that charity: water was using to raise funds online and to engage their supporters and community. And I was working in the nonprofit space, I was a part of Invisible Children and Liberty In North Korea. And I was like, you know, every nonprofit, no matter their size should have access to technology like charity: water. And so that's really what got me excited to start Funraise, was to be able to provide fundraising technology to the nonprofit community at a very accessible kind of price point. So I was really excited to come out to New York today just to be able to meet with you and to hear your story and talk a little bit more about the amazing things charity: water is doing.

Tyler: That's so cool. That's great to hear. I do, I think like our fundraising community in that platform just empowers people of all ages to participate...

Justin: You know, totally. It's changed the landscape for what charity means in terms of the age of a donor, the resources of a donor. Right? I mean, you don't have to have a ton of money to make a big impact. And so I think charity: water's done such a good job. For those of those people watching that don't know maybe charity: water or maybe just think of charity: water, maybe in the simplest terms. Would love if you could just tell us a little bit about your guys', a story, what you what your mission and vision is as an organization. What are you guys trying to change? And I would love to hear that.

Tyler: Yeah, well, I mean, it starts with the mission. So we're a nonprofit organization on a mission to bring clean and safe drinking water to every person on the planet. There are 663 million people who live without access to water. Today, it's one in ten people around the world, about twice the population of the United States. So this massive problem, people who lack access to life's most basic need. And if you live in developing countries in these really rural and remote areas, access may not exist maybe far away. You may be walking hours every day with a Jerry Can on your back or collecting water that is filthy, brown, has leeches and sediment in it and it's making your family sick and sometimes even costing people their lives. So the mission for us is all about bringing clean water to people around the world. The vision, which I think is equally important, is to reinvent charity, to change the way that it's been done, to try to inspire a generation of generous people who expect generosity from the brands that they support and the companies that they work for, and just create a world where we all feel like we have some piece of us that's tied to giving back. And so that's really, you know, a larger idea around trying to inspire a movement in young people in particular. I think we have a little bit of freedom in the space because we're more like a fundraising organization. That's what we're good at. So we work with local partners around the world. We grant the money that we raise to them. So they're the ones who are experts at drilling or building the right solutions that are going to last for years to come. They have relationships with the government and they know how to serve their people. So the best thing that we can do is just raise as much money as possible and then give it to the people around the world...

Justin: Who are already doing the work and already have roots on the ground. So one of the things that is so impressive to me is how well you guys quantify a dollar and what it can do and what it can accomplish. Can you talk a little bit about what are some of those kind of tangible results you as an organization have produced over the last, what is it a, decade that you guys have been working on this issue?

Tyler: Yeah. About how we're going to hit 12 years in September (2018). We have to date we funded over 25,000 water projects around the world. It's clean water from within 8.2 million people. It's more than a million people who've supported charity: water through fundraising or donating. So this huge, huge group of activity that have led to this progress. And we say $30 can bring clean water to one person. You know, we work in 15 different countries around the world and the solutions vary in costs. You've really expensive pipe systems that cover a huge region of Nepal or Rwanda. And then you have bio-sand filters that almost live at a household level in Cambodia. So one might be hundreds of thousands, one might be $65, but the average is right around $30.

Justin: Wow. That's amazing. And you know, it speaks to... You guys are so focused. You're focused on the mission. You know, I feel like we could do a whole podcast on just the vision of charity: water, because I think it's such an interesting thought of reinventing fundraising and reinventing charity in many ways that aligns with what why Funraise exists as well. Because, you know, we see that the old way of doing things and in the nonprofit world not necessary isn't working, but there are better ways, more efficient, effective ways to be doing things.

Tyler: Ah, yeah. Absolutely.

Justin: As you walk into this office, you just, you don't feel like you're walking into a normal nonprofit. You're walking into a place where every employee is proud of what they're a part of. Proud to be doing what they're doing. And you just kind of sense that energy. Now, one of the things that we've been hearing a lot from the nonprofit community is wanting to learn more about, like predictable revenue, like how to create a more sustainable revenue stream. And I think that at least in my experience, the nonprofits space, on what I've heard a lot with just working with nonprofits is, you know, it comes January, the budgets start over and you're like, you got to hit up all the same donors again. We've gotta ask them for maybe a little bit more money this year so we can grow year over year. A lot of organizations aren't necessarily putting the time and thought into creating like a recurring revenue program that can really help them grow and sustain in the long haul. And I know that that's something you have focused on with charity: water over the last several years. And so I'm really excited to be sharing today with the community, you know, just some best practices around where to get started, how to sustain it. I mean, you know, looking at the numbers, looking at your guys' charts, it's unbelievable how you are growing and how you're keeping people engaged in this in this lifecycle as a donor. And so maybe if we could take a step back and learn a little bit more about kind of, you know, this I don't want to call it a switch, but I know that in the beginning, charity: water was known for their birthday campaigns. And you had all of these, you know, online fundraising. You said you've had a million people in some way support the organization. But it seems like over the years as an outsider watching charity: water, there's been more focus on The Spring or on your recurring giving program. So can you talk a little bit about that switch or maybe that more, or why there's been kind of more of an emphasis put on this for charity: water.

Tyler: Yeah, it goes back. It does, it's probably three years. We have, and had, an incredible fundraising community, but it wasn't predictable. So you have outliers who may come in, somebody is a celebrity or an influencer who does a campaign and raises $400,000 and it throws off your projections, which is not the worst news to raise more money than you thought. But still, it makes it difficult to plan. And the fundraising platform, in particular, felt difficult for that reason. We had we were almost following audiences by like five different segment sizes to have outliers. And you have major fundraisers and medium fundraisers and small fundraisers. And you're trying to predict what they're going to do or help them in different ways. And it's just tricky. It's not that it's invaluable, but it's hard to predict. One of the things that's been really successful for us is a group of families. One 125 families called The Well who support our operations costs. So we can only give 100% of the money we raise to water because we have a group of people who are paying for my salary, the electricity, Wi-Fi, pizza parties, anything. They treat us more like a startup organization. But in the beginning, we realized that it was sort of the same sort of tension. If you don't if you can't forecast out that runway, you don't know where you stand two years from now. So we turned that into a three year program. You as a Well member would sign a commitment to 3 years of certain donation amount to sustain the organization. And that allowed us to predict into the future. So I think there was a moment where it was like, oh, how do we how do we take that same idea to a larger audience, our mass audience?

Justin: Yeah. So that's you know, I think that's one of the interesting things and something that you guys have done so well when it comes to fundraising. Well not just fundraising, everything you guys do. Of course. But you're so focused on these different buckets, you know, that you've got teams focused on The Well, like you said, raising for the operations of the organization so that, you know, the individuals who are giving, whether it's a lot or a little outside of The Well program, it's going to the impact that you see all over the walls here at charity: water. Tell me a little bit more about The Spring. How did you conceptualize it? So The Spring, for those of you wondering, is charity: water's monthly giving program. And they've got a lot of individuals who have committed. But before we talk about some of those numbers, I would love just to learn just kind of the thought process behind how you guys got it started? You know, I can imagine the challenge of starting a new fundraising revenue stream and maybe some pushback because especially, you know, sometimes we get married to the ways we fundraised in the past. But tell me a little bit about The Spring, how it got started and when you started to kind of see that switch in terms of momentum and it started become more part of just the overall DNA of a charity: water.

Tyler: Sure. In 2014, we had a huge year. We raised the most money we had ever raised. We helped a million people in a year. I think it was like $43 million. We raised the bar, so it was a banner year. The next year, we dropped down to $34 million. We could only help about 800,000. And it was the first time that we hadn't progressed. And the problem had been that the year prior we had a couple of like unexpected major donations. People who were in a good place financially or a company going public and were able to contribute stock and all kinds of things. So there were a couple of major gifts that set the two years apart. And then going into 2015, the market went sideways and a whole lot of things change. And we realized we need, for so many other reasons, to be able to know how much money we're starting the year with. And so there was value financially in a monthly giving community. So we don't start the year zero. We know it's worth potentially this based on average giving amount and the size of a group. For us, I don't know. I think we started looking at other nonprofits who had monthly giving programs and trying to get a sense of what others, because it's not a new idea, it's universally successful. But we knew that we wanted to do it differently. We started looking at what other people were doing and we wanted to think about it differently and not just as somebody who is... It's not like a set it and forget it. It's an investment in this problem that we believe that we can solve. It's a community of people who want to be part of this thing until the day that we finish it. And so, yeah, from day one, the idea is really been rooted in the sense of community, a determined group of people who want to see an end to the water crisis.

Justin: What would you, for these individuals that are part of this program today? You know, if you were to survey them or if you're to get salt like some of them in a room, to ask them, why are you giving monthly to charity water? What do you think they would say?

Tyler: I think it's all over the place. I know that it's all over the place. We've been really diligent about going back to this group and asking them questions about their experience and trying to improve it. I think part of it for us is like we don't, we have ideas, but we don't know what's going to work or what's the most valuable. So how do we constantly test and try new things and not be afraid to fail and just determined based on people's feedback, what works? I know people feel like there is, I'm making a commitment. I'm putting my thumbprint on a piece of paper and I'm saying on the day that everybody in the world has access to clean water, I'm going to raise my hand and say I've been a part of that since 2016. And so there is like some badge of like, I'm solving this problem. There are other people who love getting access to information, going behind the scenes and feeling really connected to their impact. There are some people who don't want anything. They're like, I just know you guys are doing a good thing and I want to contribute. Yeah. So it's all over.

Justin: I think that's like an important thing to note here is that no donor is the same. Right? I mean, we can like sit in front of a whiteboard all day and try to conceptualize something and say this is going to be the unicorn idea that's gonna cause our support base to all become monthly givers. But  as you outline, you've got some people who are doing it just because they love the content and they, love the access to it. And, you know, ultimately it's, it's about that, that impact. You have other people who are like they see the vision. You know, they see that like we are going to end the water crisis. And I think that what's important is you guys have identified these, these different kind of levers.So talk to us a little bit about how you get to know your monthly supporters so that you can retain them. It's one thing to get someone to give on a monthly basis, but how do you retain them? How do you keep them in the fold that they you know, they don't churn or they don't stop their subscription?

Tyler: Yeah, I think initially one of our intuitional, like instinctive, moments was these people deserve to be reminded constantly they're part of this big thing...

Justin: Which is contrary to I feel like a lot of organizations because it's like we want to get you to give monthly and we're not going to say anything as you just it's just passively coming out of your, you know, bank account or charge your card once a month. And you just kind of forget about it. But you guys are doing the opposite. You're like you reminding, you're giving us money every month or quarter or year. And you guys are proud of that. You want to keep at the forefront. So, sorry I cut you off.

Tyler: We do a gala every year where about 400 people come into a room. And we always treat the moment in the same way. Like you, we're gonna have an auction. You are going to up your mount. Choose how much you want to give. You're getting nothing in return. This is like not about a timeshare or a vacation or a couple's massage. This is about unadulterated giving. So the idea for our giving program is the same. How do we just make you feel incredible about this contribution you're making? We do, we time a, we call it, a good news email. So that the day that your donation gets processed, you also receive this email notification that's a little dose of good news to remind you about the impact that you're making every month.

Justin: That's super cool. And I think that well, two things I want to say in response to that. That's an amazing idea. First off. Right. And you know, imagine that takes some work to be able to obviously get those emails out on those kind withdrawal dates. And it's probably not perfect, but that shows effort and shows that like, you know, the communication is important. But, you know, one thing you said that I push back on a little bit, but in a positive way, is when people give, they're not getting anything in return. I know you met in the context of the gala because, you know, galas are notorious for you buying stuff you can already afford elsewhere you're paying a ridiculous price for.

But instead, what charity: water is doing, and this is what charity: water does so well, is it shows you the impact. You know, I've watched live from one of your guys' galas where a well was being drilled and water would come shooting out! Everyone is a part of that experience. And I think that the more nonprofits can give their donor base that experience of the impact that's being made on the ground level... there's nothing else you have to give someone, right? Because we're just as individuals like we give out of emotion. Right? Like that's one of the number one drivers of why we get it. It's because it feels good or we know that it's helping somebody. And, you know, that's important to a lot of human beings. And so I think that charity: water has just really done a remarkable job at showing the return on the donation. Right? Where that money is going, how it's actually driving impact and not just like it through these quarterly reports or whatever, but actually very visually everywhere. Right? Whether it's email, whether it's social media, it's in many ways you guys have found where donors are and you're speaking to them through the, through those channels.

Tyler: Yeah. You talked about our office space and this movement trying to reinvent charity, I think a lot of it is tied back to, values, we certainly focus on transparency and choosing hope instead of guilt and trying to make people feel powerful instead of powerless and in taking action. All of that kind of ties together. And I think you're right. There is a value exchange. But the value exchange is in the form of content or moments where you get a smile and know that you're making a difference.

Justin: Yeah. Ok, so for people listening, they're thinking this is charity: water, you know, their bad year was $34 million! Ah, only helping 800,000 people. For individuals who are like, you know we're just a few million dollars, annually or, you know, we're below a million, annually, but we know we want to get started, we know that we want to activate our support base. Ah, what tips would you share with them? What advice would you give these individuals who are thinking about starting some sort of monthly giving program for their donor base?

Tyler: Ouh, I think you start with the people who have given before, anybody who has given once to your organization almost, definitely has the capacity to give more. A lot of people that we find joy in The Spring have contributed to someone's fundraising campaign. So maybe they were supporting the person more than the cause, but they just didn't know a lot about the cause. And we follow up with more information and invite them to join The Spring. It blows my mind how many people are willing to give monthly. And it's just a matter of invitation. But I think you start with this group of people who have already done something and then start to learn from them. Ask them questions about what they want or what would be valuable. What's funny is we've been doing this exclusive video content, so it's sort of seasonal story, video stories from different countries and partners so we can show them the impact of the work, their funding and the people they empower around the world. And we've gone back to our Spring audience several times for feedback. And it is like you get people who are like, these videos are boring. You get people were like, I want the videos to be longer. This is amazing. So to your earlier point, I think the more you can learn from your existing audience and then start to segment and speak to them differently, just continue to provide value. I think that's, that's a sweet spot.

Justin: Yeah, no, absolutely. In terms of, you know, you have this large donor base. Do you, is there a cutoff where, you know, we're not going to ask this of a donor to give monthly because this donor is gonna be more of like an annual donor or a major donor. So is it, have you guys gone all in with this? And we want everyone to be given monthly? Or is there a cut off in terms of like someone's gift capacity and he's just trying to ask them for a certain amount?

Tyler: I mean, I don't think you want to cannibalize major donations, but I also think that they're totally different products. And anybody who is giving $10,000 or $100,000 dollars also could be a part of the monthly giving, even at like $30 a month, contributing in giving one person clean water just to be part of the organization. I don't think you can do one without doing the other.

Justin: Totally.

Tyler: I would say, you know, if we had only one opportunity to talk to some new CEO on the phone, we wouldn't pitch him The Spring. Yeah, we would probably go big, but I don't see why you couldn't pitch both.

Justin: Yeah, I remember, so when I was working at Liberty In North Korea, we had a monthly giving program called Liberty. And there was this individual that was giving $15 a month for several years. And we didn't pay any special attention to this individual. Just purely based off of the amount that was given on that that it's that it's, you know, a bad thing, of course. It was just there were other kind of bigger donors that we were trying to build relationships with. Anyways, this individual actually got really excited about a new project that we were starting. And a few weeks later we got a $15,000 check in the mail. And then this donor went on over a couple year period to give over $100,000. And this individual was just giving $15 a month for several years.

I think, I share that because I think the monthly programs are really like, an easy way to get even high capacity donors, their foot in the door, learning about the impact, learning the way donors are treated. Because, I mean, a lot of times people give and they never hear from the organization again. They get their foot in the door and they say, okay. If I'm giving $15 a month, how is this organization gonna treat that? How resourceful are they? And see it could lead to bigger opportunities which I'm sure maybe that's even happened, with you guys. But I was curious to know because we always had that conversation of… at what amount should we not ask someone to give and or if someone was giving $10,000 a year, should we ask him to give $12,000 over the course of 12 months so that it was like trying to get like an upsell in the donation amount. So we experimented with things like that. Curious to know, do you guys do anything like that? Or is it just like you said, you just try to stick with what you feel, or do you treat it as two different products?

Tyler: Yeah, we definitely treat it as two different products. I think we are, we're still new. You know, it's probably a year and a half, two years that we've really, really been focused on The Spring. We're not great at upselling, asking people to increase their giving or even acquisition. We started by trying to build a product that we were proud of and an experience that people would enjoy and continue to value for months and months and months. And so it was in a large way, it was all about retention for us, like how do we get somebody to join and not want to leave? And we're still trying to figure out how do we use some of this content for acquisition or how do we talk about The Spring in a marketing sense. So many current Spring members come from word of mouth. We've tried a whole bunch of things and failed in a whole bunch of ways. But I think that that piece, the upsell piece is really interesting to me. And even with our fundraising community, years and years ago, you would have little kids who would do a lemonade stand and raise $200. And it's the same thing. It's like $200 probably not a big deal, not worth a one on one relationship with somebody from our key relationships team. But in so many cases, those small stories, so small donation stories would inspire somebody to give it a much larger level. So it's been really fundamental for us. And I think we'll be an important part of The Spring. And the future is how do we highlight young people who are giving $10 a month or $30 a month?

Justin: That I mean, that gave me chills. I think that, again, that's like it's so insightful, right? And it's not something that you see often. I mean, if you look at like businesses for example, or  just look at the nonprofit community, oftentimes that donors that are being kind of, you know, promoted the most are these big foundations or these high net worth donors, which is finding that there's those types of donors are very important organizations. But what you're saying is what you have found is that it's the young people that we've inspired, the small amounts of money that have actually, you know, have caused individuals with more capacity to do more because they see. And that's I think that you guys just recently ran a campaign.

Tyler: Yeah. I was just going to bring that up. Yes. That's just such a tangible example. So this, this little girl named Nora, she's six years old, sent in a donation. She watched The Spring film, which is how we launched the spring. We created a 20-minute film. That's really Scott's story. And then how his story became the story of a million people who supported charity: water. And it ends with a very explicit ask to join this monthly giving community. It's really it's helped drive a lot of people into the program and I think does a really good job of introducing the idea of this community. But this girl had seen the video on her dad's phone. She’s six years old. She tells the story. She went into her bedroom. She laid in her bed, and she thought, should I give my money to charity: water or shouldn't I? And the next morning, she came downstairs with her little handbag and dumped out her money on the table.

And she's like, Mom, I want to send. I want to send some money. So we get an envelope in the mail that has a $5 bill, a $2 bill, a $1 bill, a dime and a nickel and a little photo of her and a handwritten note that says, I don't want people to die from dirty water. So I'm sharing some of my money. And we're like, who? What? Who is this girl? And what's the thought process when you're like, do I include a nickel like it? Yeah, I should do it. It was just so compelling and we wanted to highlight her story and invite people to follow her lead. So for World Water Day last year (2017) we invited our audience to match her donation, $8.15. And proved to her really, she believed that $8.15 will make a huge difference. Let's prove to Nora just how big of a difference it can really make. And what was awesome is we had like $8.15 pre-filled form. But people kept changing the amount they would give variations. It was like $80.15 or $108.15. And one woman gave $15,000.

Justin: Wow.

Tyler: Yeah. So it's just like such an awesome proof point that those small stories inspire really big ones.  

Justin: How much do you raise on that day? World Water Day?

Tyler: Oh, it was about $75,000 in total.

Justin: So, yeah, is this the six-year-old girl inspired hundreds of donors to give $75,000 in one day just because she saw this video? And you know that again, it goes back to your guys' ability just to really tell a really good story. Right? And oftentimes I feel like we would overlook that because it's not the photos from what we're doing in the field, on the ground, but it goes back to you guys' vision of just like reinventing charity. Right? Charity is for everyone. It's for this 6-year-old girl who was inspired of what she could. And that inspired these people to give. So that's really amazing.

Tyler: Yeah. It's so cool. I feel like kids are where it's at.

Justin: Totally. Okay, so just kind of summarize some of the things that we've been talking about. Charity: water has made us move into activating their supporters to give monthly. And to be able to when you start the year, we want to know how much our run rate is for the year, how much money can we... If, like all of the revenues dry up, what revenue can we count on? What's going to be predictable. If you're okay with sharing, like how have you guys grown your program when you started The Spring to where it's at today? How is it grown? What have... I would love to know a little bit about how many people are signing up on a daily basis, monthly basis, if anything like that, that you could share?

Tyler: Yeah, it's only getting more and more exciting. So we started a year and a half ago or two years ago when we launched that initial 20-minute video, the goal was 10,000 monthly giver's, or subscribers. We think of the more subscribers because you have the suite of products that you already subscribe to, especially young people, movies and books and anything. So it's already sort of familiar jargon or logic and it and it's a cool thought to reframe like what is the one thing I subscribe to that's for somebody else. So 10,000 was the original goal. It took us, gosh, maybe a couple of months to get there. It felt like we didn't know when we unveiled that video if people would watch a 20-minute video. If it would instantly inspire 10,000 people. So in an encouraging way, I would say it's a slow process. Today, the program has grown to 21,800... And we can check the dashboard.

Justin: Yeah, it's right outside there.

Tyler: 21,843, Yeah.

Justin: It's gone up a few since I've been here.

Tyler: Yeah, that's right. Yeah, 50 new subscribers today. 13 people have canceled. Which we are going to have to investigate.

Justin: Should we name those 13 people now?

Tyler: Yeah. And in alphabetical order... Yeah, but I think the growth is slow and it's just been a lot of learning. One of the most successful things that we're doing right now is these paid Facebook ads that drive people to the video. So people really like a lookalike audience who would go see this video for the first time and then maybe take action.

Justin: Wow.

Tyler: I know those ads are currently running at like a 5 to 1 return, 5 to 1 sometimes higher.

Justin: Wow.

Tyler: It's nuts.

Justin: Yeah. And so that's that's a good argument. I mean, there's a, you know, a lot of organizations out there that are like why do we have to pay for Facebook ads? It's my Facebook page. I should be able to reach my people. But it's kind of like email, right? You have to pay a monthly subscription to send people emails, you gotta pay for Facebook ads, and you got to find ways to optimize it to see the return.

Tyler: Yeah.

Justin: And so that could be a whole nother webinar on how to effectively use social media to drive...

Tyler: So valuable. That blew my mind. I think when I started here we didn't have a marketing budget and we were putting nothing. We had some in-kind donations and ad opportunities, but we didn't put a single dollar into it ourselves. And then we like dipped a toe in the water when we first started doing The Spring was like a $10,000  budget. And now I think it's $500,000 that we put towards marketing The Spring.

Justin: Now, that's I mean, the other thing, too, that maybe nonprofits aren't aware listening, is Google will actually give you $120,000 a year in free Google AdWords. And so and if you use it well and effectively, they actually increase that to $40,000 a month. So about a half-million dollars.

Tyler: That's incredible.

Justin: So there's no cost to it. You just have to apply and they grant it, you know, to all legitimate 501c3 nonprofit organizations and so there are ways to invest in marketing without having to spend a ton of money upfront and you start to see that return. You know, charity: water has built a lot of their own technology and is using their own technology to manage a lot of their fundraising. They're not a customer Funraise. Funraise is inspired by the work of charity: water. But we do have, obviously, a platform. And one of the kind of main features that we started from in the beginning was to focus on monthly giving. A lot of stuff we can help you automate so that you can actually run an effective kind of campaign around recurring giving. Communicate to recurring donors on a regular basis and also prevent any sort of lapse in churn, because that's the other part of it. Right. When you've got 26,000people, churn can start to be, you know, I mean 2% churn could be... doing the math on the fly here but could be, you know, under 100  people.

Tyler: That's a scary thought.

Justin: Yeah. Which, you know, I imagine there's a whole strategy behind that. Like how do we keep people continuing to give...

Tyler: And just trying to figure out how and why they churned? Did a card expire? Was it intentional? How long have they been part of the program?

Justin: When someone intentionally cancels, do you send an email like to them that says, hey, thanks for not believing in water for anyone anymore?

Tyler: You're very cold. No, but early on, I think I don't know if Scott's still doing this, but he would send a follow up to every single person to ask what? What changed? And like no hard feelings at all, we're just trying to improve the product. So would love to get a sense of what could've been better? And yeah, you learn a lot that way. I think just being that honest with people. A lot of people are like, well, "I, yeah, no, I'll come back. I'll come back." Yeah. I think it's like, "I felt like you had forgotten about me or maybe I didn't matter." You said $10,000 and now it's at $15,000. So. Do you really need me still?

Justin: Yeah, interesting. We talked about this in the beginning, people have this like incredible sense of pride to work at charity: water. I think one of the interesting things I've also noticed is there's this large enforces on fundraising. And in a lot of nonprofits, fundraising seems to be the dirty word, right? It's like and it's like who? Like the fundraising team is always in the corner, right. Or it's not as exciting as the people working on the ground or in the field. It's like a big scary and project. And sometimes people would just like to ask people for money. Yeah, yeah. It's like that's not fun, but it's the opposite here. So, talk to us about your guys is kind of his belief in and being so transparent with your fundraising and the energy you put behind it, because it's so different than what I've seen in a lot of nonprofits.

Tyler: I would say it comes from the top. Scott is such a great ambassador of priorities for the organization and like excitedly following along with results. And you see these screens around the office, not just so our staff can be up to speed with the current average monthly giving amount or the churn rate or why people are churning. But also we can share it with anybody who visits our office and takes tours and just, wear that information on our sleeve. I think that's part of it is creating a culture where people care about the results, but also celebrating the results. I think every time we hit a milestone with the monthly giving community. Scott, sends another email and it's like we just hit $8,000,000 a year, it means 250,000 people have clean water. It's X number of people every single day because of this incredible community and just gets everybody really excited and involved or invested in the actual data. You know, we have a slack channel called wins where you celebrate it might be somebody giving a $5,000 check. It might be being featured on a podcast. It could be any kind of win.

Justin: So are you gonna get put in the slack channel for being featured on the Funraise podcast?

Tyler: I'm gonna be proudly posting it. Yeah.

Justin: Alright good.

Tyler: Yeah, but it is I think you just you start to encourage people to share those wins and get excited and feel like you're invested. I don't work on the fundraising team in a proper sense, but in a way we're all fundraisers. So if you if we all feel connected to it, I think we're all rooting for the same thing.

Justin: Totally. That makes sense, and I love what you said about the milestones thing. Because I think that we can very easily kind of come up with a goal and like there's a start and there's an end, but what's in the middle? And often it's what's in the middle, those milestones that are hit that really inspires the team to like what we're doing is working. We're winning. You know, like we're actually accomplishing. There's a lot of satisfaction in and just the results. And, you know, going back to what we've said so much here today. It's always, the dollars raise is always tied to how many people are going to be impacted by these dollars.

Tyler:  Yeah.

Justin: And I think that's like, if I was listening to this podcast and, that's one of the big takeaways for me would be what about our fundraising or what about our work, can we say, how can we show those results? Right? And it's everyone's mission is doing something different. Right? Where maybe it's not like a human life that's actually being helped. But what is our like very tangible, concrete evidence that what we say we do is happening with the dollars that are coming into the organization? And you guys just do that in such a brilliant way. And it's inspiring.

Tyler: I just think it's so incredibly valuable that you guys provide tools back to people to make it accessible because it is I would say one of the things that we've learned is trying to do it yourself, trying to create your own products can be really, really hard and really clunky and it makes it difficult to change or improve. Like we get stuck on a lot of V1s and so to reiterate and grow is totally on us and it's just tough. But I think you're providing an incredible service for other people. And I'm happy to be a part of it in any way I can.

Justin: Well, thank you so much.

Tyler: Yeah.

Justin: Thanks Tyler. Appreciate it.

Tyler: Yeah. Thank you.

Justin: Signing off.

Tyler: Bye bye.

Justin: Bye bye.

Thanks for listening to this episode of Nonstop Nonprofit. This podcast is brought to you by your friends at Funraise. Nonprofit fundraising software, built by nonprofit people. If you'd like to continue the conversation, find me on LinkedIn or text me at 562-242-8160. And don't forget to get your next episode the second it hits the internet. Go to and sign up for email notifications today. See you next time!