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Why Your Nonprofit Should Focus On Recurring Giving


    Your organization’s main goal is to create a meaningful, lasting impact on the world, but the unfortunate reality is that it's hard to make a difference without money. Whether your non-profit is in its beginning stages or you already have a reliable base of donors, fundraising can be stressful and unpredictable. Your team should be focusing on making change, not financially surviving until the next big donation season.

    Monthly recurring giving allows an organization to break out of that cycle. Instead of relying on seasonal fundraising and then struggling months in between, your charity can operate smoothly with a reliable stream of donations each month.

    Monthly recurring giving, is when a donor gives the same amount of money each month, usually over a long period (12+ months). Recurring donations tend to be less than $500 dollars per month. When a large pool of smaller donors contributes the same amount each month, your non-profit has a steady, reliable source of income throughout the year. This steady flow of donations allows your charity to fund its vision and make a bigger impact.

    Why should I focus on recurring giving?

    Traditionally, nonprofits search for large, one time donors, usually around the holidays. They rely on these larger donations to survive throughout the year, but seasonal campaigns and large one time spikes in income can lead to stressful feast and famine cycles that create inconsistent and unpredictable income. It’s difficult for an organization to plan budgets by relying on irregular intervals rather than establishing diversified, predictable income.

    Average Lifetime Value of One Time vs Monthly Recurring Donors

    Converting an annual or semiannual donor into a monthly giver can also increase the amount they give each year. For example, a donor may give two installments of $100 each year. By asking that donor to give smaller installments of $30 per month, you’ve increased their annual contribution to $360 dollars per year. On average, a recurring donor contributes over 440% more over their lifetime vs a one-time donor.

    How do I promote & establish my recurring giving program?

    Finding and establishing your base of donors can be a challenge in itself. It’s important to remember that donors are investing in your mission. It is your job to properly promote your cause, make it easy for donors to contribute monthly, and to communicate with your donors regularly. Set goals and execute timelines to successfully create a community of recurring givers.

    Properly promote your cause

    In order to get a steady following of recurring donors and supporters, you need to properly raise awareness. Your organization is meaningful and impactful. It is your job to make sure donors are aware and motivated to participate.

    One way to promote your cause is to tell your audience stories that evoke emotion. Remember, donating is a personal act and you should appeal to your audience in a personal way. Share true narratives about your cause that will touch your audience and tug at their heartstrings. People are more willing to contribute to a cause that they feel passionately about — they donate through the heart.

    Facts and statistics about your cause are important, but it's important donors  "feel" emotionally invested as well. Compassion International, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting children financially in 3rd world countries, is an excellent example of how to use emotions to inspire donors.

    Compassion International Website
    Compassion International does an excellent job of using stories, facts and figures, and emotional imagery to appeal to both the hearts and minds of donors.

    Their website provides personal stories and photos of specific kids who need support. Their stories are authentic and personal, so donors feel an emotional connection to these children. The kids even write personal, handwritten letters periodically to send to their supporters, so supporters are reminded of how their monthly giving is directly impacting the life of a child in need.

    Your website is the perfect place to provide inspiring and encouraging people to get involved in your organization’s mission. Provide visuals, statistics, and true stories about the impact recurring donations can have. Write compelling stories that excite donors through an attractive and honest website and marketing. Brand your website accordingly. Be specific about what a donation provides. Your nonprofit is doing some amazing things, now is the time to showcase it!

    Take the time to study your donors’ personas. Know who they are, what is appealing to them, and how much to ask for based on this information. Understanding what specifically attracts your donors will help you create an ideal brand, website, and story that appeals to them. Organize and track this information through a CRM (Customer Relationship Management), like SalesForce, which is free for nonprofits.

    Make giving as simple as possible

    Recurring donors used to have to take time each month to remind themselves to donate to their favorite charities. Usually, they would have to send in a check through the mail or call in with a credit card. The work involved in this naturally discourages donors or they simply forget. Your mission is too important to lose donors due to a difficult recurring donation process.

    The easier the process is for donors, the more money your charity will receive. After properly promoting your cause, your donation form should be easy to find and easy to fill out online. Ideally the form should be seamlessly embedded on your website. Avoid redirecting donors to a 3rd-party website to contribute; this may lead them to abandon the donation altogether. A clean, simple process makes the donation experience pleasant and efficient. Avoid using separate forms for one time and monthly donors.

    Keep in mind that donating via credit card is not always the preferred method of payment for some contributors. Your form should support a variety of currencies and payment methods to reach a wide audience.

    Donors' preferred method of payment
    Donors' preferred method of payment

    A recent study by Non-Profit Source (in 2017) reported that 10% of online donors preferred bank or wire transfers, 9% of online donors in preferred PayPal, and 4% preferred to use a mobile wallet or app (such as Apple or Google Pay). In order to reach the widest audience of donors, you should offer a wide range of  payment methods in a variety of different currencies.

    Communicate with donors regularly

    Once you have a group of dedicated recurring donors, it's vital to keep them engaged and excited about contributing. Make your donors feel appreciated and special each time they donate. Let them know through email, social media, newsletters, web updates, and online marketing techniques that their donation is important, no matter how big or small is making an impact. There are many ways to let your donors know their personal investment in your non-profit is valued.

    Take the time to write personal “thank you” emails to make your donors feel unique and needed. You can take advantage of GiveForms’ personalized receipts, which send a personalized message each time they make a recurring donation. You can also send monthly newsletters catered specifically to your recurring donors. An e-newsletter should communicate updates and information about how donations were used and how they made a difference. Keep in mind that you don’t want to bombard your valuable donors with boring emails. Newsletters should be informative, entertaining, and continually showcasing your impact through emotion evoking stories.

    reallygoodemails.com Screenshot
    Reallygoodemails.com is a great source of inspiration for email designs and newsletters

    Lastly, engage your current and future donors by keeping an active social media presence. Encourage donors to share your charity’s information on their own social media accounts to spread the word.

    Recurring giving is a dependable way to ensure your organization has long-term financial stability. Your charity can make the biggest impact with recurring donors, but it takes hard work and dedication to get there. Promote your cause by creating a compelling story and brand. Ensure it is easy for donors to make recurring donations and communicate with these donors how important they are to the success of your mission. GiveForms’ goal is to support all nonprofits who are out to make the world a better place. We are here to help you during the fundraising journey.

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