We recently published a new free ebook, How To Use A Monthly Giving Program To Boost Recurring Donations. In it, we share our recommendations for how to build your monthly giving program, as well as examples from other nonprofits that have created successful recurring giving programs.
In this blog post, you’ll find some of those tips for launching a successful monthly giving campaign.
Getting started with your monthly giving program
The first thing you need to do is make sure you’re able to accept recurring donations and easily track these donations in your donor management system. The option to make a donation recurring should be prominently displayed.
In addition, your donor management system should automatically generate transaction receipts that will get emailed to the donor each month. You should also have the ability to segment your supporters into lists so you can communicate with your monthly donors when you need to send them updates.
Make sure you provide your donors with an easy user experience. This includes things like enabling them to easily update their credit card information.
Design your giving program with your story in mind
When thinking about your giving program, you should keep your nonprofit’s branding and story in mind. Check out our favorite monthly giving program examples for the best practices when it comes to designing and naming your giving program.
Tie the ask into your mission
When it comes time to ask your supporters to become monthly givers, make your appeal about your mission.
When thinking about the donation levels you want to support, find creative ways to show where that money is going. By doing so, you’ll help the donor visualize the impact they’re having on your mission, which will get them further invested in your cause. Embedding an online fundraising thermometer on your website is a great way to share your goal progress publicly.
Inviting supporters to join the program
Once you brand your program and decide on how you’ll tie your appeals to your impact, you can create branded social media assets, email templates, and the page on your website that will allow you to promote the program and connect with monthly donors.
When it comes to finding supporters to join your monthly giving program, you should first look in your database:
- Are there lapsed donors you could ask to give a smaller gift more regularly than a larger one-time gift?
- Are there donors who have given one time over several years but increased the donation each year? Maybe they want to give on a more regular basis.
- Are there donors who give periodically throughout the year already? They might appreciate saving time from having to come back to your donation page every few months.
- Are there people who have volunteered at multiple events or those who have expressed interest in getting more involved? What about people who share your posts on social media and promote your brand to their friends? You already know you have their support. All you have to do is make the appeal.
Send an email to your segmented audience
After you’ve looked in your database, send an email to the segmented lists of supporters and donors that you think would be interested. When you make appeals in the future, share information on how supporters can join the monthly giving program.
If your goal is to grow this program into a successful initiative that provides your organization with a steady stream of revenue, you should make the program highly visible on your website and include an option for people to join the program when they make an online donation. You’ll also want to post information on social media periodically so new supporters know they can support you in this way.
Finally, research shows that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for another gift soon after a donor has made a one-time gift. According to The State of Nonprofit Email Cultivation, a free research study Kindful co-authored with NextAfter, “people are most likely to make a second gift or even upgrade to become a recurring donor in their first few months after making a one-time gift.”
Connecting with and thanking your donors
Each month you should send your donors an email with their transaction receipt so they can keep track of the donations for their records. Since you’re already reaching out to them, this is the perfect time to thank them and update them on exactly how their donation is impacting your mission. Share photos, stories, and whatever else you can to emphasize just how important their support is to your organization.
Even though you won’t want to reach out to these donors as often as you would your general email list, you should let them know other ways they can get involved. If you have a big campaign in the fall, reach out to these donors a few weeks or months ahead of time to share how they can support your mission.
Now that you have a list of dedicated supporters, you should also consider reaching out to them when you want supporter input on future decisions. The more the donors feel that you respect them and their input, the more likely they are to remain committed to supporting your organization.
Managing your monthly giving program
While many aspects of the monthly giving program can be automated, you shouldn’t just set everything up and walk away forever! Check in at regular intervals and see how the program is growing, what campaigns, social media posts, or emails are most effective at getting new donors to join the program, and if you’re retaining donors over the course of the year.
When you keep an eye on your data and the health of the program, you’ll be able to make adjustments that will create a better experience for your donors and address any issues that may impact the lifespan of your recurring donors.
We also recommend regularly pulling a list of donors that have failed transactions so you can reach out to let them know that they need to update their credit card information or see why their payment failed to process.
Talking to your donors about other giving options
As we mentioned above, donors who make recurring gifts end up making additional gifts more often than one-time donors. And because a recurring donation doesn’t reduce the size of their one-time gifts, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask your recurring donors for additional donations.
It all comes down to what the appeal is, how you make it, and when you send it.
Asking your recurring donors for an additional one-time donation
It’s a fine line to walk: You don’t want to completely exclude them from most of the communication you send, but you don’t want to overwhelm them with additional appeals when they’re already giving regularly.
First, you’ll want to segment your monthly donors into one list and remove them from a general list for appeals. You’ve already got their support—you don’t need to solicit at a regular cadence because they’re already giving each month.
Then you’ll want to decide which appeals are vital to the success of your mission. If you host a campaign each fall that makes up the bulk of your fundraising revenue, that would be a good time to ask your donors if they’ll make an additional donation. As we mentioned above, you should tie that appeal to your mission. Make it very clear how that additional donation is supporting the organization.
Why you should talk to your donors about matching gifts
When you make an appeal or thank your donor for making a donation, remind them to check with their employer to see if they’ll match the donor’s gift.
According to Double the Donation, lack of donor awareness results in $4-7 billion in matching gift revenue left on the table every year. Even just mentioning matching gifts in your fundraising appeals and on your donation page results in a 71% increase in response rate and a 51% increase in donation amount.
Don’t forget to see if your donor management software integrates with a tool like Double the Donation. For example, Kindful integrates with Double the Donation’s 360MatchPro, which provides matching gift tracking, automated email follow-ups, and actionable insights for improving your matching gift efforts as you go.
To see the rest of our tips for creating a monthly giving program and inviting your supporters to become recurring donors, download the free ebook.
Schedule a live demo with our partner Bloomerang, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.