GivingTuesday Fundraising: Why Recurring Giving & Retention Matter
Chris Paver – 10 November 2023
GivingTuesday is a big deal for many nonprofits and has become a mainstay of year-end giving and fundraising efforts. GivingTuesday occurs on the Tuesday after American Thanksgiving (Tuesday 28 November in 2023). For many organizations, GivingTuesday generates an outpouring of donor support and launches their all-important end-of-year fundraising campaigns, which generate between 20 – 40% of annual fundraising revenue for the typical nonprofit. Now in its 11th year, the 2022 GivingTuesday campaign raised over $ 3.1 billion in the US in just 24 hours and £20m in the UK!
These GivingTuesday statistics prove that GivingTuesday is an important fundraising opportunity for many nonprofits, allowing them to leverage a global movement dedicated to generosity and charitable giving. So, investing in a GivingTuesday campaign is a good strategy for nonprofits to kick-start their end-of-year fundraising and finish the year strong.
But achieving fundraising success on GivingTuesday is only half the equation… retaining donors and converting them into long-term supporters of your cause is just as important. Nonprofits that take a longer-term and more strategic view of the GivingTuesday opportunity will be the ones to reap the biggest rewards.
In this blog we’ll explore actionable strategies and tactics for nonprofits looking to maximize the impact of their GivingTuesday fundraising efforts and explain why recurring giving and donor retention are key to year-end fundraising success and the long-term sustainability of your nonprofit.
1. Shift your focus from one-off to recurring giving
Historically, the focus on GivingTuesday has been on one-off cash donations, not recurring gifts.
However, recurring giving continues to be one of the best investments a nonprofit can make to engage donors as lifetime supporters and create a stable and predictable source of annual revenue. And despite the impacts of rising inflation and economic uncertainty, the popularity of recurring giving programs continues to surge, with 66% of nonprofits seeing an increase in monthly giving in 2022, according to Dataro’s 2022 Fundraising Benchmark Report.
Your donors are passionate about making a lasting impact beyond one moment, like GivingTuesday. Plus, the convenience and ease of recurring giving appeals to many donors because they know their support will continue without any additional effort on their part.
Tactic #1 – Make recurring giving an easy option for your donors on GivingTuesday
To encourage more donors to support your cause long-term, you’ll need to optimise your GivingTuesday donation forms for monthly giving and prioritise recurring giving in your social media posts, emails, text message solicitations and direct mailouts (if you plan to use DM). Make sure your donors know that monthly giving is an option and is a more impactful and sustainable way of giving to support your organisation and help you achieve your mission.
Tactic #2 – Use AI to find the best monthly donor prospects
At Dataro, we’ve found that charities often miss an obvious source of potential new recurring givers – their existing one-off donors. Using new AI technologies like machine learning, Dataro has helped hundreds of organisations like Greenpeace, UNICEF and The Wilderness Society to identify their best monthly donor prospects and grow their recurring giving programs through better conversion campaign targeting.
Nonprofits who focus on converting existing cash donors (including previous GivingTuesday donors) to monthly donors stand to grow income, increase fundraising ROI and maximise the lifetime value of their supporter base. Converted donors are retained at 2.6x the rate of newly acquired monthly donors and have 9x the lifetime value because they continue giving single gifts on top of their monthly contribution (Dataro Fundraising Benchmark Report – 2022).
Using AI to identify your best monthly prospects and including a compelling narrative about the impact of monthly giving is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to grow your recurring giving program and achieve your GivingTuesday goals.
2. Invest in donor retention
The immediate win of GivingTuesday is undoubtedly donor acquisition. While this is vital to achieving your campaign goals, the secret to long-term GivingTuesday success lies in retaining these newly acquired donors.
By investing in recurring giving this GivingTuesday, you’re already building a more stable source of funding for your nonprofit and will benefit from better donor retention. But that’s no excuse to rest on your laurels. Good donor retention strategies are still required to help grow donor loyalty and ensure a higher return on your acquisition efforts.
Tactic #1 – Prioritize new donor journeys for ongoing support
Nurturing GivingTuesday donors into long-term supporters is a process that requires strategic communications and good stewardship. The process begins with a timely and heartfelt thank you message to donors in the days following GivingTuesday. Good supporter journeys are crucial to donor retention. They should continue to engage donors at various touch points by reporting back on the impact of their gift, providing regular updates on your charity’s activities and sharing other ways for them to engage with your cause.
If you don’t have your GivingTuesday donor journeys planned out for your new one-off and monthly donors, then you are wasting your chance to build enduring support.
With advancements in generative AI in 2023, fundraisers can easily scale their donor stewardship efforts and reduce the time and effort it takes to write donor communications. It can also help you to quickly build donor journeys.
Dataro’s AI Assist is a generative AI fundraising content assistant built with GPT technology to help fundraisers create effective fundraising content and donor communications – fast! Whether you need to write a direct mail appeal letter, a GivingTuesday campaign email or reach out to a lapsed donor, AI Assist will find the right fundraising words to say and generate an entire letter or email for you in seconds. It even generates email subject lines, text messages and phone conversation scripts plus entire donor journeys to welcome new donors for example.
The first draft communications generated by AI Assist serve as ‘inspiration’ or a launchpad to your creative writing process and will always be improved with your human touch and careful revisions. It’s not about creating perfection at first click. It’s simply a way to get you off the starting block (no more staring at blank screens!) and give you a really good draft that uses fundraising-specific language and best-practice fundraising tactics. Sure, it’s possible to use ChatGPT to generate GivingTuesday communications, but creating something half-good will take a lot more effort and time because fundraisers need to learn how to prompt effectively and will often make these common mistakes when using ChatGPT.
With Dataro’s AI Assist you can build entire new donor welcome journeys from scratch in just minutes. By leveraging this tool, fundraisers can save time and boost their productivity during a really busy period. Plus, because AI Assist has been built specifically for nonprofit fundraising, the content generated is highly donor-centric and effective for fundraising communications (unlike ChatGPT).
Tactic #2 – Use AI to prevent churn and proactively improve monthly donor retention
The next step in improving the retention of your newly acquired and converted monthly donors is proactively tackling churn.
A donor churns or lapses out of your giving program when they stop giving. Churn must be avoided and actively combated to achieve healthy donor retention. It is far more cost-effective to retain your monthly donors than constantly acquiring new ones.
But, our 2023 Interim Benchmarking Report found that only 62% of monthly donors acquired at any point in 2022 are still actively giving six months later.
That’s where AI technologies like machine learning can help. At Dataro, we recommend a three-step monthly donor retention strategy:
- Use AI-powered propensity modelling to predict which donors are most likely to churn
- Engage your most ‘at risk’ donors with a thank you call or impact update
- Measure and repeat
Machine learning propensity models can predict which of your existing monthly donors are at risk of cancelling their gift, with a very high degree of accuracy. By identifying donors most likely to churn from monthly giving programs, nonprofits can take proactive steps to prevent this from happening. This improves donor retention, increases donor lifetime value and maximizes the ROI of recurring giving programs.
Historically, predicting churn has been a significant challenge for nonprofits. The traditional approach requires complex segmentation strategies, close data analysis, personal follow-up with lapsed donors to learn why they left, and more. It’s not very effective, and it only gives you broad assumptions about the types of donors likely to churn rather than specific individuals who need re-engaging.
Predictive AI technologies like machine learning offer a more direct solution to predict churn. AI propensity models can accurately and quickly predict and rank the individual monthly donors who are most likely to churn out of your program, making it easy for fundraisers to find at-risk donors, generate accurate contact lists, and get started re-engaging them in just minutes. AI takes all the guesswork out of Step 1, meaning you can boost retention in a sustainable, scalable way (that won’t waste your time and resources).
Equipped with the knowledge of who will likely cancel their gift, charities can proactively engage these donors. One of the most effective ways to retain monthly donors and make them feel valued for their support is with a thank-you call. The objective is to save your relationship with the donor by putting your mission back on their mind, making them feel valued and reminding them of the impact of their giving.