Celebrate Every Month With Recurring Donations

Your birthday is one of the best days of the year. You get treated like royalty, enjoy lots of cake and are showered with gifts.

But what if your birthday wasn’t just one day every year? What if you could celebrate once a month? Although the gifts might be smaller, you’d still come out ahead in the long run. Plus, imagine all the extra cake and cookies you’d get.

While it might be hard to get other people to celebrate your birth on a monthly basis, you can let them celebrate your nonprofit every month with a regular recurring donation. Monthly donations are vital to your organization because they are regular, recurring revenue that you can count on. It’s a lot easier to budget knowing that you have money coming in each month, rather than scrambling to make sure you have enough donations to pay your bills.

During this time of the year, the fundraising focus is largely on year-end asks and Giving Tuesday. Even if your efforts are focused on those two areas, never take your eyes off the prize—monthly, recurring donations. In fact, you can combine your efforts this time of the year. Almost 30 percent of monthly donations occur during December, including 10 percent during the last three days of the year.

Why You Should Focus on Monthly, Recurring Gifts

Monthly donations are better for your organization because of their regularity and in the long run you’ll typically collect more money. With regular income, you can plan expenses and fundraising campaigns more effectively knowing the money will be there. They are also better for the donor because they can make smaller, regular donations that fit better into their budget each month rather than one large lump sum.

According to Network for Good, the average recurring donor gives 42 percent more during the course of a year than one-time gifts. Don’t believe that? ActBlue, a political fundraising organization, sent an email to half of their database, one asking for a one-time donation of $75 and the other for a monthly gift of $3 for up to 24 months. The results after 24 hours: the one-time donation resulted in $2,557 donations, while the recurring ask projected out to $4,365.70.

How do you go about getting more people to sign up as monthly givers? Our friends over at Eleventy Group have nine ideas on how can you build up your recurring donations. These ideas include things you need to be doing on your website like setting up online donations, creating a page for monthly gifts and allowing people to share their gifts on social media.

How to Ask for Monthly Gifts

Stop making one-time appeals. OK, that may be a little harsh. Rather, stop asking people who have already donated to your nonprofit to make a single donate again. Instead, decrease your asking amount and work to get them to set up a monthly gift to your organization. They already have an interest in your nonprofit and care about your mission as indicated by their previous donation. You need to help them make the leap to recurring donor. As noted in the ActBlue case study, if you simply ask for a recurring donation, you’ll also get a better response. You can also do this by setting up a landing page. The Digital Giving Index says a branded donation page is 31 percent more likely to initiate a recurring gift than a generic one.

That said, you shouldn’t eliminate your new donor recruitment. You need to build up your donor base, and the easiest way to do that is through a one-time donation. However, once people make a one-time donation, your goal should be to build the relationship and convert them into a monthly donor. If you treat them right and give them a pleasurable donation experience, then they’ll stick around and keep contributing to your cause.

Maintain the Relationship

Why should someone donate each month to your NPO? When making the sell, provide details of the benefits their monthly donation will create as opposed to a one-time gift. A great example—the organizations that ask you to sponsor a child in a foreign country. These groups make an emotional appeal for a donation and then show how much of a difference your small, regular donation can make. After you’re signed up, they provide updates and photos of the child you are sponsoring. They continue to remind you of the good you are doing after you’ve handed over your money.

After you get someone to sign up to become a donor, don’t let them sit idle. You should provide occasional updates on your organization. Include them on your newsletter and provide the donor with your annual report. But don’t become a nuisance in their life. If you pester them too much (especially for more donations) they may take their money elsewhere. You want to inspire them, remind them why they donated in the first place and the impact they are part of. Try to communicate no more than once a month, and probably less than that, but don’t forget about them. Monthly donors still need to be appreciated and included in your retention efforts.

Acquiring monthly gifts isn’t something that will happen automatically after you set up your landing page and start a campaign. With any fundraising efforts, it will take some work to recruit and build your pool of donors. But if you do it right and put the time and energy into it, you’ll have another reason to celebrate a little more each month.


Lincoln Arneal

Lincoln Arneal was a Senior Editor at Nonprofit Hub who brought loads of real-world nonprofit experience to the team. He was the past executive director of a nonprofit that provided leadership development to junior high and high school students. He looked to bring the insights from his time forming, developing, and running a nonprofit to help others in their quest to do good. Lincoln also had a legal background and had written for various newspapers (covering high school sports) for the past 15 years. He could be followed on Twitter at @NPLNK.

October 17, 2014

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