7 Tips to Create a Profitable Recurring Donor Program

recurring donors

Recurring donors are a huge untapped revenue source for so many nonprofits.

We are still trying to wrap our heads around the vast potential recurring donors offer.

If you have 300 monthly donors – just how much overall revenue would these 300 lovely people be contributing to your cause each year?

Let’s run the numbers:

If each of those wonderful donors gave the average amount of the typical monthly gift – they would be giving $24/month. That’s really doable for a lot of people.

300 donors giving $24/month yields $86,700!

That’s significant revenue for your mission and work to change the world.

To help you nail your own monthly gifts, here are 7 quick tips for success:

1. Allocate the resources to promote recurring donor gifts.

Get your organization’s commitment, and be prepared to invest time and resources.

This program often starts slowly and builds momentum over time. Be sure you will be able to stay the course.

It will take time up front to create the success that will pay off later.

You’ll need to be prepared to invest even more to market your program as it takes hold.

2. Identify your best prospects for monthly gifts.

Who are your best prospects?

Monthly giving expert Erica Waasdorp says that your most likely prospects are your SMALL donors – those who give $100 or less each year.

So look for your most loyal small donors,  who give several times a year.

They might think:

“I can’t write the big check, but I could do five or $10 a month.

Pull a report on donors under $100/year who have given more than one in the past twelve months. Focus on them first for monthly asks.

Extra Help To Boost Your Recurring Donor Revenue

If you want more help to ramp up monthly gifts to your cause, then join our Recurring Donor Intensive with Erica Waasdorp.

I’ve asked Erica to give us a deep dive into the best practices of monthly giving – with  two webinars, handouts, appeal samples, and tons of advice.

She’s also holding a live materials Makeover Session for us next week. Just think how terrific it would be to have your materials critiqued by a true expert!

So if you want expert advice to develop, manage, and execute sustainable monthly giving for your nonprofit, join us for the Monthly Giving Intensive.

3. Remind recurring donors of the benefits of monthly gifts.

When you create an appeal, be sure you talk about the donor’s benefits:

  • How easy it is for them,
  • How they can donate even smaller amounts and still make an impact.

Then add  a paragraph on how important it is to the mission you serve that the funds come in on an ongoing basis and that you can count on it.

Print the text in large letters so it even looks easy and convenient from just looking at the appeal.

Try this language from Erica Waasdorp:

Support Big Brothers, Big Sister with a recurring donation starting at 10 bucks a month. Make a long-lasting impact. Click here.

4. Get a seamless back end system in place for credit card updates to keep monthly gifts rolling in.

Don’t hold back when it comes time to update credit cards. Your donors love you – and they want to keep sending those monthly gifts.

Call them. Email them. Send them snail mail. But DO follow up!

Erica Waasdorp suggests that some systems have an option to add an “Account Updater”  to the back end of the donation process.

The Account Updater identifies those donors whose card expires. It then taps into this huge database of updated credit card information.

5. Encourage Electronic Funds Transfers.

In the U.S., people are more comfortable using credit cards rather than Electronic Funds Transfer. (EFT)

Credit cards are more cumbersome – you have to deal with expired cards, address changes and, of course, those fees.

Come right out and ask donors for the EFT. It’s as simple as saying this:

“If you convert to giving monthly through electronic funds transfer it’s actually going to save us a lot of money because we don’t have the credit card fees.

6. Ask properly for recurring donor support.

On your donation form, include the option of monthly giving first.

“Give monthly.

THEN add this option:

“Make a one time donation.

Not all donors may be ready to join your monthly donor program– but many will.

Help your recurring donors buy something specific.

This is a no brainer, but it’s absolutely essential to encourage donors.

21st century donors want to feel like they are doing something specific for the cause they love so much.

Tell the donor what their money will do:

$25 will protect an acre of rain forest;

$50 a month will provide 5 meals a week to a hungry child.

BONUS tip: Create a cool Giving Society for your Recurring Donors.

Naming your program will help with name recognition.

Give your group a name. Doctors Without Borders calls its monthly donors “Field Partners.

Boston Children’s Hospital calls them “Dream Makers.”

Habitat for Humanity calls them “Hope Builders,” with a nice web page dedicated to monthly gifts.

Erica Waasdorp also suggest these words:  community of hope, guardian, champion, hero.

BOTTOM LINE: Encouraging Recurring Gifts.

Establishing a robust recurring donor program is not complicated, but it does take commitment and focus.

How are YOU doing with monthly gifts? Leave a comment and let us know!