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It’s no secret, donors who make repeat gifts are far more valuable for nonprofit organizations than those who only give once. You didn’t need us to tell you that. But have you considered using a monthly giving program to boost revenue from current donors?

According to Network for Good, the average recurring donor gives 42 percent more in a year than a donor who makes one larger gift. If you are looking to get a monthly giving program started, or want to refine your current strategy, this post is for you!

A Win-Win Scenario

Monthly giving programs ease the burden on a donor’s wallet, while enabling nonprofits to raise more money. Think about the last major purchase you made over $1,000. Chances are, you found a way to avoid paying such a large lump sum up front. Perhaps you worked out a financing plan, or maybe you used your credit card to break down your purchase into more manageable payments over a few months.

This is the same concept that nonprofits use to encourage monthly giving. Fundraisers know if they ask an average donor for a significantly larger gift, they will be turned down more times than not. It can actually strain the donor/organization relationship if a donor is accustomed to making $50 donations, and all of a sudden you ask for a $500 gift! That’s like the guy at the deli saying, “Hey we know you usually get the $5 sandwich, but you should buy 6-foot party hero for $50 today.”

However, if you outline the benefits of a monthly giving program and detail your current needs, you might just get them to commit to giving $50 per month. Over a full year, that donor would contribute $600. That means you’ve raised $100 more than you were going to initially ask and from a happy donor.

We all know the peaks and valleys nonprofits see in giving throughout the year. Now we’re not saying we can turn your worst fundraising month into your December, but a monthly giving program can provide you with a consistent stream of revenue throughout the year.

Securing Monthly Gifts

Like your other fundraising initiatives, you need to make it easy for donors to give if you want the donations to roll in. There are several things to consider to ensure your donors know about your monthly giving program and to make the process as simple as possible.

First of all, if this is a new program, you will want to plan communications announcing the launch of your monthly giving initiative. Send a letter in the mail to your donors who prefer direct mail. Then follow up and reach the rest of your donor base with email and social media campaigns. Of course, this will come after you design and publish a well-branded monthly giving web page.

It’s also important to prioritize your communications to reach donors who are most likely to enroll in your monthly giving program. Consider targeting donors who already give more than once during a calendar year. These donors are great potential targets for monthly giving since they already are used to giving several times a year, not just once at year-end.

The next step is to remind your donors about your monthly giving options every time they would make a donation. This can be as simple as including a checkbox saying, “I would like to start giving monthly.” You can then send an automated email to help get your donors enrolled in the program.

Be Clear About Terms

It’s very important to be specific when it comes to recurring gifts. Be sure that your donors understand the terms of their commitment to your organization. For example, clearly state the time frame of the recurring gift and provide donors with options. Will this gift automatically renew every month for a year? Consider providing options for giving over a 6, 12, or 18-month period so donors can commit at a level they feel comfortable with.

However, your donor management system may be set up to have monthly gifts process automatically for an indefinite amount of time, until donors manually opt-out. Make sure you are clear and upfront about these terms if you use this approach!

Maintaining Monthly Giving

This one is important.

You run the risk of missing a gift when a donor uses a credit card that expires during the specified giving period. This is one of the major pitfalls nonprofits encounter when first launching a monthly giving program.

Now, you don’t want to limit donors by only taking cards that will be valid for the entire term of a gift, especially if someone wants to sign on for multiple years of giving! However, you can send an email to remind donors when their preferred payment method will expire soon. Give them a heads up so they don’t miss out on their monthly gift! Some platforms automate this process and automatically send an email if a donor’s credit card is about to expire or if a charge is declined.

But don’t force donors to re-enter their credit card details each month in order to give. Remember, giving should be as easy as possible. However, when a donor renews their monthly commitment after their first term, you can remind them to make sure their payment method is up to date for the next giving period. 

Reap the Rewards

Nonprofits large and small use monthly giving to raise more money from each donor and keep gifts coming in all year. These programs also open a new way for donors to engage with your nonprofit.

For example, now they can receive a special monthly donor e-newsletter when their gift is processed each month. This is your chance to remind your donors of the impact their gift is making each month and clue them in on any news about your organization.

Keep in mind, every successful monthly giving program has a brand that fits with the organization and its goals. So be sure all print and digital elements of your monthly giving program have the same look and feel!

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