4 Unique Recurring Donation & Monthly Giving Program Examples

Emily Hunsaker
Emily Hunsaker

Recurring gifts are a great way for your donors to connect with your organization on a regular basis. In addition to creating a long-term relationship with these donors, you’re also adding an ongoing stream of revenue for your organization.

Recurring giving programs can be very beneficial to nonprofit organizations, but organizing and promoting these types of programs takes a special approach. To convince donors to give on a monthly basis, you must make a point of showing them the impact these types of gifts will have.

Here are four nonprofit organizations who are doing monthly giving programs right and 4 takeaways about how you can apply their strategy to your own recurring giving campaign:

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The Nonprofit: charity:water

As a nonprofit organization aimed at bringing clean and safe drinking water to developing countries, charity:water is focused on solving the water crisis and reinventing charity. With help from private sponsors who cover the organization’s overhead, 100 percent of donations to the nonprofit go toward the organization’s mission.

Founded in 2006 by club promoter Scott Harrison, the nonprofit has raised more than $155 million for more than 19,000 projects.

The Program: The Spring

As charity:water’s newest monthly giving program, The Spring is a celebration of the organization’s decade in existence. The program stems from one of the organization’s successful annual programs, Donate Your Birthday.

The Spring makes it simple for donors to see the impact a monthly gift can make by pointing out that “a $60 monthly donation can give 24 people clean water every year.” In addition to providing clean and safe drinking water, the giving program also provides training for local maintenance teams in the project area.

The Marketing

The nonprofit kicked off the monthly giving program’s marketing efforts with an inspirational video about the organization’s mission, history and success. The video, entitled “The Spring,” was shared several times on various social media pages, with a heavy focus on Facebook.

The video has been viewed more than 1.8 million times and has more than 600 comments and 16,000 shares on Facebook.

The organization also uses Twitter to directly promote the monthly giving program in a variety of ways. In addition to using popular times of year, like Daylight Savings time, to tie in a social media promotion, the organization also used other common social media tactics to promote the program.

The organization shared tweets by donors who recently joined the program and posted updates on the progress toward charity:water’s goal of 10,000 monthly donors.

On top of its popular “The Spring” video, charity:water also used live videos on Facebook to promote its new program. The organization took advantage of Facebook’s Live option to post broadcasts from the nonprofit’s CEO at the organization’s headquarters, as well as at TOMS headquarters.

In addition to sharing the video and information about their monthly giving program on the nonprofit’s Facebook page, members of the organization also took the time to post additional information in the comments section of several posts. The Facebook Live feeds also included links to the campaign video within the comments, in addition to several mentions of the link to the campaign’s sign-up page.

The Takeaway

Social media can have a huge impact on your monthly giving program, if it’s used correctly. By making their donors the stars and making use of popular media platforms (like video), charity:water was able to successfully promote its program and raise a ton of money for a good cause.

The Nonprofit: Watsi

Based in San Francisco, Watsi’s mission is to provide healthcare for every person in the world. The organization keeps its overhead low by working with a small team and partnering with top healthcare organizations to fund low-cost care worldwide.

The nonprofit was founded by Chase Adam, who was inspired to start Watsi while serving in the Peace Corps. Watsi collects its donations through crowdfunding, where donors are connected to patients in need of treatment they can’t afford. Overhead costs are funded separately, allowing all online donations to go directly to the patients.

The Program: Universal Fund

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.

Typically, each new donor’s first month donation is matched by the organization’s healthcare partner, Tencent. Occasionally, the organization increases its matching dollars — with a successful 10x matching campaign in October.

Watsi Matching Gifts

The Marketing

Watsi’s marketing efforts for its Universal Fund began with a brandinginitiative. The organization set out to separate the fund from its other giving programs by creating a new branding campaign specifically for the monthly giving program.

The new brand extended to the program’s landing page, which has a distinct look and feel separate from the nonprofit’s main website. The landing page features inspiring photos of people who have benefited from the cause, along with short bursts of information about the program.

Watsi Landing Page

The branding initiative continues through the organization’s email efforts. Donors receive monthly email updates on the patient their donation is helping, in addition to updates after the patient has received their needed care. The emails feature inspirational photos and testimonials from the impacted patients.

Watsi Email Example

The organization also took to social media to promote the monthly giving program. During its 10x matching offer in October, the nonprofit used a custom hashtag (#10xForGood) to spread the word across channels. The organization also had help from social influencers, who spread the message to their massive following on Twitter.

The Takeaway

Creating a separate brand for a campaign makes it stand out among other programs. To make your monthly giving program branding initiative work, you must take into account every arm of your marketing plan. In addition to creating a branded landing page on their website, Watsi extended the brand to each aspect of its marketing campaign (social media, email, etc.) — and that’s why it worked.

Recurring Giving Campaign Guide

The Nonprofit: The Adventure Project

The Adventure Project works in impoverished areas to create the capacity for entrepreneurship. The organization provides job training, tools, financial training, and uniforms to people living in poverty in hopes that they will be empowered to earn a living, send their children to school and support their community.

Founded in 2010 by Jody Landers and Becky Straw, The Adventure Project has created 91 jobs that will impact more than 45,000 people.

The Program: The Collective

The Adventure Project’s monthly giving program, The Collective, aims to further the organization’s mission by providing specialized support to create entrepreneurs who will then help 500 of their neighbors to receive better healthcare, clean water, nutritious food, or a safer environment.

According to the the organization, “for every $1 donated, an entrepreneur is able to earn $2.30 in additional income this year –  moving themselves out of extreme poverty.”

The Marketing

The Collective’s ongoing marketing efforts are focused on impact. Monthly donors receive an email about the impact their donation has on the nonprofit’s clients. The emails include background information on that month’s success story, as well as inspirational photos and testimony from the entrepreneur.

Adventure Project Email example

The stories shared in the monthly emails are also posted on the nonprofit’s blog, as well as across social media channels.

Additionally, the organization used a one-time contest promotion to increase awareness of its monthly giving program. Each new monthly donor was entered into a contest to win a trip with the organization’s co-founders to Africa to meet with individuals impacted by the organization. To promote the contest, the nonprofit took to social media and online media outlets.

The Takeaway

Content marketing can work for nonprofits. In this case, The Adventure project used typical content marketing strategies, like blog posts and contests, to bring attention to their monthly giving program through inspirational impact stories.

The Nonprofit: World Help

A Christian humanitarian organization, World Help works to serve the physical and spiritual needs of people living in impoverished areas. The nonprofit supports their mission through a variety of efforts, including clean water initiatives, humanitarian aid, child sponsorships, and faith-based programs.

The organization was founded in 1991. Since that time, the organization has impacted more than 76 million people in 70 different countries.

The Program: Child Sponsorship

World Help’s monthly giving program allows donors to chose a child to sponsor through a monthly gift. The recurring donation provides the sponsored child with basic necessities, education and Christian teachings.

The focus of the monthly donation is dependent upon the child’s location. The organization focuses its support on four key areas: children’s homes, family-help programs, community programs and schools.

The Marketing

The Child Sponsorship’s ongoing marketing efforts center around three key components: annual updates, program updates, and special project updates. The annual correspondence includes a personalized letter from the sponsored child, along with an updated photo.

Program updates outline progress within the sponsored child’s particular program. The updates are provided by program coordinators and give donors a big-picture view of the organization’s efforts.

The special projects updates give donors a chance to communicate with their sponsored child. Program coordinators create letters and cards for the donor to send to their child on special occasions, such as holidays and birthdays, as well as opportunities for the donor to contribute additional support (donating school supplies or birthday gifts, for example).

The organization also uses online tactics to recruit new donors. In addition to sharing donor and recipient stories on their blog, World Help also promotes Child Sponsorship occasionally on its social media channels through testimonials, photos and videos.

The Takeaway

Showing the impact of your program is a classic, but often successful, marketing tactic. In this case, it works especially well because World Help used a variety of tactics to show varying levels of donor impact. In addition to promoting the program on a general basis via social media, the organization also provided personal proof of impact via letters from donation beneficiaries.

A successful recurring donation program will provide your nonprofit with an ongoing stream of revenue, on top of creating a lasting relationship with these ongoing donors. Learning from the successful strategies implemented by these four nonprofits will help you improve upon your own organization’s recurring gift program.

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