What’s better than getting a notification that your organization has received a new online donation? A notification that your organization has received a new online donation that’s going to repeat every month!
A recurring giving program can give a huge boost to a nonprofit’s overall fundraising strategy. But there are right ways and wrong ways to go about it. The Trump campaign, for example, was recently in the news for doing it the wrong way, which involved shady tactics like pre-checking boxes so donors might not realize they’re signing up to give every month. Just in case it needs to be said: it is never a good idea to trick your donors.
Now that we’ve covered that, here are some tips for soliciting recurring donations, including how to ask for them, how to keep them, and why they’re important.
What’s so great about a recurring donation?
As a digital fundraiser, if I had to choose between a one-time donation of $500 and a monthly recurring donation of $20 (that’s $240 for the year), I would choose the recurring donation, hands down. But why if it’s half as much? A few reasons:
1. It’s much easier to plan when you know how much money is coming in each month. When you have a solid base of recurring donors, you know what the minimum income will be every single month and how much additional funding you need to raise on top of that. Even if a recurring donor’s credit card expires or someone cuts back or stops their recurring donation, as long as you cultivate this group of donors, you’ll be able to maintain or grow your monthly income from this group.
2. A recurring donor is invested in your organization. Each time the donation hits their credit card or they get a confirmation email (or a thank you, hopefully!), they’ll be reminded of your organization and their involvement in it. This investment gives you, as an organization, a million opportunities to connect with these donors.
I’m a recurring donor for an organization called Gorilla Doctors. I don’t give much each month, but I love the organization’s mission and want to offer some form of steady support. As a monthly donor, I often receive special invitations to video chats with the team or other online events, and I get a calendar in the mail each year! Not every organization needs to provide recurring donors with merch, but offering some form of incentive for giving on a recurring basis — even if it’s just a nice, personalized thank you note — will encourage people to stick around and keep giving.
3. It’s much easier to ask someone to give $10 per month than it is to ask them for $120. And in addition to that, it’s easy to ask a recurring donor to recruit friends to become recurring donors themselves. If I posted on my Facebook, “I just gave $200 to this organization — will you join me and do the same?” I’m not sure I’d have many takers. But if I challenged my friends to join me in giving $15 per month, I might generate some interest.
Asking for (and keeping) a recurring donation
Anytime you’re asking for something, whether it’s a one-time gift, a volunteer sign-up, or a recurring donation, it’s essential to be direct and specific. Tell your supporters you’re looking for monthly donors. If possible, tell them how many monthly donors you need to reach a specific goal and how reaching that number will allow your organization to get closer to fulfilling its mission. Whenever possible, explain what gifts of varying sizes can do. This makes them feel like their monthly gift, however small or large, is making a real difference.
When it comes to keeping these donors around, the most important thing is communication! Your recurring donors are giving every month, so they should hear from you every month, if not more. Let them know how your organization is doing in terms of securing recurring gifts and how their individual contribution is making a difference toward overall goals.
Keeping donors around requires taking a good look at your digital and fundraising programs. Do you have the right systems in place? Can you ensure that someone who signs up to give a monthly gift today won’t get an email tomorrow asking them to give? If you need help developing or implementing your fundraising strategy, including recurring donations, use this link to book a free strategy call with one of our experts and get started today.