A Fundraiser’s Top Tips for Growing Your Recurring Giving Program

Katrina –

Recurring giving is a proven way to engage donors as lifetime supporters and create a stable and predictable source of income for your nonprofit. And despite the impacts of rising inflation and economic uncertainty, the popularity of recurring giving programs has surged, with 66% of nonprofits seeing an increase in monthly giving in 2022.

With nonprofits and donors alike increasingly moving towards recurring giving, we asked Dataro’s Customer Success Manager and career fundraiser Lauren Deeney to provide her top tips for managing and growing a successful monthly donor program.

Whether your organization is planning to launch a recurring giving program or wanting to improve your existing offering, we hope these best-practice tips will help you build a strong and loyal supporter base for your cause.

Define your recurring giving program

Whether you are about to launch a new recurring giving program or wanting to refine your existing strategy, defining the purpose and objectives of your program is an essential first step.

By clearly defining the program strategy and objectives, fundraisers can more effectively communicate the program’s purpose and importance to potential donors and deliver a program that is tailored to the needs and preferences of your donors, while also meeting the needs of your organization. 

“The rise of subscription products and services most certainly has played a role in shaping donor expectations and preferences when it comes to the way they support the causes they care about. So in defining your program, it is also important to understand ‘why’ a monthly giving option will appeal to your donors. Is it because this type of giving fits more easily into their monthly budgeting or is it knowing that their smaller but regular gifts add up to a larger impact over time and can help advance your organization’s mission over the longer term,” says Lauren. 

Defining the specifics of the program such as donation amounts, frequency and payment methods are also key to ensuring your program will appeal to potential donors.

Consider the following questions:

  • What is the fundraising goal?
  • What will the money be used for?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • How much will the recurring gift be? 
  • What is the frequency of giving options available?
  • Can you provide dollar handles to help your supporter understand where the funds will help?
  • How can you brand your program? (Make your supporters feel part of a community of champions making a difference)
  • What additional benefits will donors receive? E.g. a great welcome pack, regular newsletters, exclusive updates etc

Develop your messaging and communication plan

The success of a recurring giving program depends on effective communication. 

With your strategy defined, you can develop clear and consistent messaging about your program that will help build trust and credibility with donors and ultimately motivate them to support the program. 

“Giving your program or monthly donors a name that relates back to your cause (like “Champions of Change”) can help make donors feel more engaged and invested in your cause also,” says Lauren.

Lauren says developing your annual communication plan starts by identifying the channels you will use to reach potential donors, such as email, social media, direct mail, phone calls or a combination of all of the above. 

“Most importantly, create a message that resonates with your audience and highlights the impact of their donation. Using storytelling in your communications that demonstrate how a donor’s ongoing support will help make a difference is an important tactic that shows potential donors the tangible difference they can make through a monthly gift.”

Finally Lauren suggests fundraisers personalize their monthly donor communications using data as much as possible. Leveraging new AI technology like chatGPT can also help you tailor messages that show your individual donors how their personal monthly donation can make a difference.

Make it easy for donors to give

The convenience and ease of recurring giving appeals to many donors. They can set up their giving once and know that their support will continue without any additional effort on their part. This can lead to increased donor retention and a more stable source of funding for nonprofits.

So the key is to make the giving process as simple and user-friendly as possible. 

Lauren says to “You should provide multiple options for donors to give, including online, by phone, or by mail. Offer an automatic monthly giving option that will charge the donor’s credit card or bank account each month and provide clear instructions on how to cancel or update their gift. Give donors an option in your direct mail appeal to start giving monthly.”

Develop tailored supporter journeys and experiences

A good supporter journey involves engaging donors at various touch points to show them the impact of their gift. For new monthly donors it is important to develop an onboarding journey to start deepening your relationship with them. Start by sending a welcome email to new donors and provide regular updates on the charity’s activities.

Lauren also suggests inviting your monthly donors to events and offer opportunities to volunteer or take a tour of the organization to deepen their understanding of your work and connect them more deeply to your cause. Provide exclusive content and opportunities hat shows how their gift is making a difference is. One of the best ways to show how a donor’s gift is making a difference by sharing stories and testimonials from those who have been helped by the charity, says Lauren.

Thank your supporters regularly and personally

Thanking your donors is critical for building long-term relationships. Lauren suggests showing your appreciation for your monthly donors’ ongoing support regularly and communicate the impact of their donations are having.

“Consider personalizing your thank you messages by segmenting your donor list and tailoring the message to their interests. This will help to deliver communications that resonate with your donors, recognize them for their support and encourage their continued loyalty.”

Find ways to surprise & delight your donors

Surprising and delighting donors is an important tactic for retaining monthly donors. It involves going above and beyond your donors’ expectations which creates a positive emotional connection that reinforces their decision to support your cause. 

When donors feel appreciated and valued, they are more likely to continue giving and to increase their giving over time. Additionally, when donors are surprised and delighted, they are more likely to share their positive experiences with others, which can also help to attract new donors.

“Think about offering unexpected rewards such as handwritten notes, exclusive merchandise, or personalized videos from beneficiaries.”

Convert existing cash donors to monthly donors

While acquisition is necessary to introduce new donors to your cause, conversion of existing donors is a highly cost-effective way to grow recurring giving. In fact, monthly donors who are converted from other fundraising activities are retained at 2.6 times the rate of newly acquired donors and have a lifetime value (LTV) that is 9 times higher. This makes conversion a cost-effective strategy for the long-term success of your recurring giving program.

Lauren suggests fundraisers should “Encourage donors to become monthly givers by highlighting the benefits of giving a monthly donation. Explain that their monthly gift provides a predictable source of income and reduces the administrative burden of processing one-time gifts while also helping supporters to increase their impact over the longer term. Offering incentives such as exclusive event invitations, recognition in the annual report or exclusive newsletters can also help convert people into monthly donors.”

Data analytics and predictive modeling tools can also help you identify trends and predict which donors are most likely to give again or convert to a monthly donation.   

Leverage your existing monthly donors

Encourage existing monthly donors to invite their friends and family to join your nonprofit’s recurring giving program. Lauren suggests fundraisers can host webinars, provide virtual tours or host information nights for existing monthly donors as an opportunity for donors to invite people to learn more about your organization and the incredible impact of a monthly gift.

In summary

Investing in a recurring giving program for your charity requires careful planning, effective communication, and a commitment to building long-term relationships with your donors. By following these best practices and top tips, you can convert single cash givers to monthly givers, reach and acquire new supporters, and show appreciation for your loyal supporters. 

A good supporter journey showcasing the great impact a supporter has with surprise and delights along the way can make a significant difference in retaining and growing your monthly giving program.