How Nonprofit She’s The First Created A Successful Monthly Giving Program

KindfulAugust 03, 2020

shes the first header image

Wouldn’t it be great if you could count on a group of passionate supporters to donate to your organization on a recurring basis? Getting donors to make that kind of ongoing commitment might be easier than you think. Sometimes all it takes is inviting them to join a special giving program or community.

For this Q&A blog post, we connected with Henah Parikh, the Development and Communications Manager for nonprofit She’s the First. Henah talked with us about how She’s the First created their branded monthly giving program and shared tips for nonprofits looking to turn their supporters into recurring donors.

Understanding The Front Row Monthly Giving Program

How would you describe the work She’s the First does to a prospective donor?

She’s the First fights for a world where every girl chooses her own future. We team up with local organizations to ensure girls are educated, respected, and heard. To date, we’ve reached 9,500 girls across 11 countries.

For prospective donors, I’d want them to understand that our work is in partnership with community-based organizations around the globe and that as a grassroots organization ourselves, their support — no matter how much — makes our work possible.

What is your role as it relates to The Front Row?

As the DevComms Manager, I oversee individual one-time and monthly giving including The Front Row. I manage all of their donor communications including impact information, administrative back-end processes, and at large, the Front Row experience (shout outs, perks, personalized communications on STF updates, etc.).

image from shes the first website with smiling girl in front of bright yellow wall

Finding The Inspiration & Vision For The Giving Program

How would you pitch The Front Row to a prospective member?

Over the years, it’s become exceptionally clear that investing in girls has the best ROI you can imagine: Educating girls leads to healthier families, thriving economies, and even helps to fight climate change. And you don’t need to give $100+ to make this a reality.

By joining The Front Row (which starts at just $5/month), you’ve made a tangible commitment to girls’ rights and education. These recurring donations provide sustainable, predictable income, and you’re joining a community alongside hundreds of folks who also want to make an impact worldwide. In exchange for your support, we share stories and voices from girls globally as well as insights into how we work.

What inspired your team to create The Front Row?

We’ve been fortunate to have a sizable community of monthly donors from as far back as 2014. But in early 2018, we wanted to simultaneously give them a better experience, build up a dedicated community, and share why recurring contributions are so important.

What inspired the name?

Our work chiefly supports girls’ education and rights, and so we wanted to play with that “classroom” theme a bit. Commonly, students who sit in the front row are usually the most engaged, and that paralleled nicely with our monthly donor community.

shes the first impact image showing two girls in classroom

Establishing The Giving Program

When you realized you wanted to create The Front Row, what steps did you take to make that vision a reality?

Because we wanted this to be a comprehensive experience, it involved:

1. Branding to increase visibility and reputation:

  • Coming up with a formal name, branding (for us, we leaned into the navy of our brand palette), donation pages
  • Building an online presence through our website, social media where we’d sometimes hashtag #TheFrontRow, CTAs for our newsletters

2. Establishing a regular cadence of communication:

  • For us, this includes personalized emails sent out 1x/month or quarter, tailoring the monthly donation receipt with Front Row language, etc.
  • Creating welcome emails, resources, and graphics so new Front Row members could better understand and share about their impact

3. Coordinating opportunities for recognition and gratitude:

  • In addition to receiving impact updates once a quarter, we wanted to make sure monthly donors know who they can reach out to for questions or concerns
  • Sending out annual “Happy Anniversary” emails
  • Honoring our monthly donors by name and beginning to include them in our Annual Report
  • Offering incentives/perks whenever possible (i.e., discounted tickets to events, STF merch)

screenshot of the front row monthly giving program promotion on facebook

Did you go in hoping for a specific number you wanted to reach with these monthly donations? Did you have another goal in mind?

Originally, we wanted to grow our audience from ~75 members to 100, 150, then 200. But we also wanted to make sure everyone enjoyed the experience and that we could retain our audience.

Fast-forward to today… When the pandemic started deeply affecting the economy, we realized that we were less likely to receive larger one-time donations, but we also knew that girls would be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. So we set up a goal to reach 100 new monthly members starting at just $5/mo, with their first few months of giving directly supporting our COVID-19 Response Fund.

To date, we’ve added 92 new members since launching that goal in late April (it’s mid-July at time of writing) for a total of nearly $10,000 a month! We’re proud that our community has stepped up in the best way in this collectively challenging time.

When did you launch The Front Row?

We officially launched The Front Row in March 2018, in conjunction with International Women’s Day. We had a generous board member match all new monthly donations, which helped to substantially grow our community within a couple of weeks and then we went from there!

What has surprised you since launching The Front Row?

I’m always so touched at how committed our supporters are; many of them have been around for years. Even when a life change happens, they’ll share that they’ve temporarily adjusted their contribution but that they’re still committed for the long haul. And on the flip side of that, we’ve seen folks who supported us as students from our Campus Community start giving at $5 or $10 a month and then grow to give upwards of $50 or $75 a month. So for me, that is always the best kind of surprise and sentiment.

Promoting The Giving Program

Is there anything you wish you had done differently or known before launching The Front Row?

Visibility and repetition are key; one or two announcements of a brand new concept may not resonate right away with your community. Make sure you include it as a CTA whenever possible, add to your website’s home page, etc. so that once a prospective donor finds you, they have a very clear understanding that this is the best way to invest in your work.

Do you do anything, in particular, to communicate with members of The Front Row? Do they hear from you more often than regular donors?

Yes! As I shared above, we send out more communications to our monthly donor community which includes their original welcome email, their quarterly impact update, and a happy anniversary email. We don’t want to bombard them, given the monthly receipts they receive too, but I do think those small touchpoints are appreciated.

You have a page on your website where you list the members of The Front Row. What was the motivation behind creating that page?

The motivation was twofold: Showcase our reputable community and recognize our incredible donors. By seeing this page, you could think, “Wow! I want to be a part of this worldwide movement, too.”

screenshot of monthly donor recognition on shes the first website

Tips For Your Own Monthly Giving Program

What advice would you give to another nonprofit that is hoping to create their own monthly giving community?

Especially in a time when the future is somewhat unknown, recurring donations are the easiest and most sustainable form of revenue, so I encourage every nonprofit to build up their own monthly giving community.

Clearly outline the benefits and potential impacts of giving, ensure each member feels appreciated and in touch with a designated staff person, and create consistency so they always know what to expect (and look forward to!).

This is a more technical piece of advice, but I would also recommend making sure you have a best practice for tracking monthly donations on whatever donor management platform you use. For us, Salesforce had limitations on how we could set up recurring donation information and that was a big challenge at first.

Is there anything else you would like to share about The Front Row?

We’re very close to our 300 member goal for The Front Row if anyone wants to help get us over the finish line. 😉

Give To The Front Row

If you’re going to launch a successful monthly giving program, you’re going to need the right tools to make it work. Learn more about Kindful’s fundraising tools.

Filed Under:   Fundraising