Recurring donors are a fundraiser’s dream. These are the folks who give you a predictable stream of income month after month, and who support your organization over time. They tend to give 2x more over their lifetimes than those who repeatedly give one-time gifts.
As fundraising becomes more and more digital, creating sustainable and predictable donations takes on new importance. That means your recurring donors deserve more of your time.
Yes, we all love our recurring donors. But how do you get recurring donors? And even more importantly, how do you get them to give more each month?
Let’s take a look at some of the best practices for making recurring donors a part of your fundraising strategy.
Optimize Your Donation Form For Recurring Donations
One of the best ways to push your donors to become monthly donors is by creating a donation form that subtly tells them what you want. If you take nothing else away from this article, here’s your #1 tip:
Make recurring donations the default option on your donation form.
Of course there’s a lot more to your donation form than that. Donation tiers in particular are a great way to help your donors see the importance of becoming a monthly donor. To optimize for recurring giving, you’ll want to create customized donation tiers that help drive more recurring gifts.
CauseVox allows you to create one set of donation tiers for one-time donors, and another set for recurring donors.
To create the perfect donation tiers, take a look at the average gift your monthly donor gives. Add $5 or $10 to that amount and make it your second option (people are most likely to choose the second-lowest tier). Add one amount that’s lower and two that are higher. Boom: beautiful donation tiers.
A few general principles can also help you if you want to deviate from that formula. You don’t want to offer people too many options in your donation tiers. One of the benefits of Donation Tiers is that it minimizes the number of decisions the donor has to make, removing the friction that comes with making a decision of how much they should give. Adding too many options adds that decision-making paralysis back into the equation.
The ideal number of tiers is between 3 and 6.
Keep in mind that your monthly donation tiers will look different from your one-time donation tiers. If someone is giving every month, they’re less likely to make a large donation. Offer them lower options because you know that over time it will add up to more.
Show Monthly Donor’s Impact
Donation tiers move us nicely into our next tactic for converting recurring donors: showing impact. Donors want to know where their money is going and why it’s important for them to give.
One clear way to do that is to include information about impact in your donation tiers.
There are so many ways to describe impact. Possibilities include:
- Person to person (ie: $10 feeds one homeless person for a day)
- Item based (ie: $10 provides 3 meals for someone in need)
- Time based (ie: $30 provides a counseling session to someone in need)
- Recognition and rewards (ie: $15 gives you access to email updates and a bumper sticker)
- Titles (Ie: $20 is a Mental Health Supporter, $50 is a Mental Health Advocate)
But there are other ways you can show impact. Once someone has already made a donation is a great time to tell them about the impact of their donation and show them how beneficial recurring donations can be.
Consider sending a regular email to your donors to share success stories from your organization, and note the ways that regular donations make those successes possible.
You can even create a specific email that goes to monthly donors letting them know how their donation impacted the organization and encouraging them to increase the donation. Include testimony from the people your organization impacts.
One particularly effective way to show impact is to connect your monthly donor to a specific client or recipient. Show them the exact person they are helping and give them a name and a face.
Watsi’s Universal Fund gives donors the opportunity to fund a new patient each month by setting up a recurring monthly gift. 100 percent of the donor’s automatic donation goes toward the healthcare of a needy patient on Watsi each month.
Add A Match Or Other Special Perks For Recurring Donors
Donors don’t know what they don’t know: if they aren’t aware that your organization sees recurring donations as important, they won’t make that donation. It’s up to you to show that recurring donations hold a special place in your fundraising strategy.
How do you tell your donors that recurring donations are important? You create hype around them.
One great option is to add a match that’s just for recurring donations. According to Double the Donation’s matching gift statistics, 84% of potential donors are more willing to give if a match is being offered! Watsi uses this incredibly well by asking their healthcare partner to match each recurring donor’s first month donation. That match tells your donors that recurring gifts are a priority.
If a matching grant isn’t on the table for you, you can create other ways of making the recurring donation important. Some of this is in the marketing: maybe you create a special name and thank you program for donors who give monthly. But you can also offer additional perks to monthly donors that go beyond titles.
Perhaps your monthly donors get an annual thank-you luncheon with your executive director. Maybe they gain access to certain educational materials your organization creates. Think about what you have that is of value to donors and offer it to those who give monthly.
Market, Market, Market
Speaking of making your campaign stand out, let’s talk about marketing. Whether you’re working on a short-term campaign or an ongoing drive to increase recurring donors, you want it to be focused and clear. Think about how you can separate this ask from your other giving programs. Create a brand for your recurring gifts and carry it through the program’s landing page, social media posts, emails, and any physical materials.
A good place to start with your branding is to consider the name. From the get-go, ensure your campaign title includes a long-term focus, so that donors have an inkling of what to expect from the campaign the moment they see it.
You might include words like “recurring” or “monthly” to help indicate to donors what the campaign is all about.
When creating your own recurring campaign, find a prominent spot on your page to feature your recurring campaign and include details about what the added benefits of giving monthly entail.
Don’t forget to tell donors how to make their donation recurring either. You want the process to be as easy as possible. Luckily CauseVox makes the process quick and intuitive.
Create A Recurring Giving Campaign
If you want to get started in building up your recurring donors right now, a short-term sprint to a targeted audience could be the perfect campaign for you.
While many of the strategies we’ve already shared can be incorporated throughout the year, there are also some specific tactics you can use to create a recurring gift campaign.
If you want to give your recurring donation program a kickstart, you’ll want to design a campaign to entice people to become monthly donors.
The best place to start is by deciding which of your existing donors would be a good fit for a monthly program. Here are some good ideas:
- Donors who give annually
- Donors who recently made a smaller one-time gift.
- Donors you acquired during year-end (to help support throughout the year).
- Donors who have strong ties to a particular program (think program alumni, former staff, etc) that are poised for ongoing support.
- Donors 35 and under.
By targeting your existing donors, you’re developing a relationship with that donor and retaining them at the same time. Another bonus is that your existing donors are folks you already know something about. That lets you send really targeted messaging that’s more likely to convert.
Now you’ve got your audience and you’re ready to create the campaign. Simply adding the option to your donation form doesn’t communicate to your donors. Instead, try some of these strategies to create a monthly giving campaign that looks enticing to your donors.
- Build an email campaign explaining the benefits of monthly giving
- Create a donation page focused on monthly giving
- Share quotes from current monthly donors
- Create a special name or program for monthly donors
- Give solid impact statements on why monthly giving is important
- Ask across all channels
- Share a due date to communicate a sense of urgency
With these tips, you’ll have a monthly giving campaign that gets people excited.
Increase Recurring Donors With CauseVox
Need a solution that makes monthly giving easy?
CauseVox is a digital fundraising platform for nonprofits that helps you raise more with less effort through our fundraising software.
Typical fundraising software is clunky, complex, and contract-bound, but CauseVox actually tidies up your digital fundraising. Run donation pages, crowdfunding, and peer to peer fundraising in less time, without hassle. Donors can set up recurring gifts in no time, and manage their preferences any time.