Monthly giving programs provide your nonprofit with reliable revenue throughout the year. When compared to other fundraising initiatives, monthly giving may seem like it takes a “set-it-and-forget-it approach.” However, growing your monthly giving program to maximize its benefits takes dedicated time and investment. Knowing the program will earn regular donations once it’s established can be freeing for some nonprofits, but it may make other fundraising professionals assume that they can’t actively expand their monthly giving program further. As an incredibly valuable source of income, your monthly giving program is worth additional investment to ensure it’s achieving its maximum potential. Keeping in mind that monthly donors tend to increase their value over time, your nonprofit can take additional steps to attract more monthly donors and earn more from the supporters currently enrolled in your program. To help your nonprofit expand your monthly giving program, this article will explore five key tips including:
- Identify potential monthly donors.
- Make recurring giving easy.
- Offer incentives.
- Practice donor relationships cultivation.
- Invest in your CRM.
These tips apply to nonprofits of all sizes, meaning that you can grow your monthly giving program whether you’ve been running one for years or you are just getting started. Ideally, your monthly giving program should scale with your nonprofit. If your monthly giving program ever starts to seem unmanageable with your current software setup and business practices, it might be time to reassess either your technology or your management systems.
1. Identify potential monthly donors.
While some new donors may decide to sign up for your monthly giving program the first time they donate, most of your monthly donation candidates are likely already in your system as annual donors. Many annual donors have made a substantial investment in your nonprofit and can likely be persuaded to join your monthly giving program. Use your donor database to look for prospective monthly donors. Two key traits to consider are semi-regular giving and significant contributions:
- Semi-regular donors. Donors who give on a semi-regular basis, such as annually or bi-monthly, have likely been with your nonprofit for a long time. These donors know your cause and have consistently supported you over the years. This means they may be open to switching to a more frequent donation schedule.
- Significant and moderate donors. What qualifies as a significant donation will depend on your nonprofit. However, for many nonprofits, most supporters who are considered moderate donors can be considered for a monthly giving program. These donors have a reasonable capacity to give and have demonstrated that they are willing to make substantial contributions to your organization.
When approaching these donors, make sure your proposed donation increases align with their current contribution levels. For example, someone who donates $200 annually is likely to agree to joining your monthly giving program at a rate of $20 a month, earning your nonprofit an extra $40 per year. This may seem like a small increase, but these changes add up. Monthly donors can also be further encouraged to increase their donation amounts the longer they maintain a relationship with your nonprofit.
2. Make recurring giving easy.
Your website and online donation page should make signing up for your monthly giving program as easy as possible. Ensure your website is navigable, making it easy to find your donation page, especially from your home page. From there, you can further optimize your donation page to encourage supporters to join your monthly giving program. CharityEngine’s guide to recurring donations walks through how to set up a donation form that incentivizes monthly and recurring gifts:
- Offer suggested giving amounts. Displaying suggested giving amounts alongside higher one-time donation amounts can persuade donors to become monthly donors. This is especially true for new donors who may be unsure how much is considered an appropriate amount to give.
- Brand your donation page. Your donation page should represent your nonprofit to provide a consistent experience for your donors. In addition to branding your donation page with your logo and colors, consider adding an explanation of what a recurring gift can help your nonprofit accomplish. For example, a nonprofit providing schools with supplies might mention how many students will be supported with each donation amount or list what kinds of supplies could be purchased with the donation.
- Prompt supporters to become monthly donors multiple times throughout the donation process. The most straightforward way to convince donors to sign up for your monthly giving program is to ask them. This might sound obvious, but according to 360MatchPro’s fundraising statistics report, only 14% of nonprofits prompt supporters to become recurring donors during the donation process. Plus, that same report found that a pop-up message asking donors to upgrade their one-time gift to a recurring donation resulted in a 64% increase in monthly donations.
Additionally, make sure that your donation page is fully secure. Data breaches harm your supporters’ faith in your nonprofit’s ability to keep their financial information secure. Given that many of your supporters will likely consider becoming monthly donors only after contributing to your nonprofit over a long duration of time, consistent security helps build vital trust between them and your nonprofit.
3. Offer incentives.
Donors want to support your nonprofit, and many of them can be convinced to join your monthly giving program if you offer additional incentives. While some supporters may appreciate tangible incentives, many of them don’t need t-shirts or added bonuses for themselves, but a demonstration of why their support matters. For example, your nonprofit should take steps to display the impact donations have on your mission. Then, when marketing your monthly giving program, you can offer specific details about how monthly donations support your efforts. For instance, an animal shelter might provide information about monthly adoption rates and explain how many homes can be found on average with monthly support. You can also connect with companies to help your supporters’ donations go further. Consider reaching out to a sponsor to develop a company volunteer event or promote their matching giftprogram amongst employees giving to your nonprofit. During a set period of time, your sponsor will match or provide extra donations for each supporter that signs up for your monthly giving program. Or, invest in a matching gift database, so your match eligible donors will always be able to increase their gifts through their employer’s contributions. If you decide to partner with a business or corporation, make sure their mission and business practices align with your nonprofit’s brand. Researching your sponsors and offering appropriate incentives helps create a consistent experience for your donors, especially loyal monthly donors who have supported your organization for longer periods of time.
4. Practice donor relationships cultivation.
Whether you have been running your nonprofit for decades or you are just getting started, you’re likely aware that forming long-term relationships with your donors is vital for long-term support. This is especially true for potential monthly donors, many of whom will need to form a strong connection with your nonprofit before agreeing to sign up for your monthly giving program. Donor relationship cultivation can take many forms. For many donors, relationships can be formed through a combination of personalized messages, one-on-one conversations with your nonprofit’s donor relations team, and participation in your nonprofit’s events and other activities. Often, it takes a combination of different approaches and communications to develop an impactful relationship. As you build your donor relations program, keep in mind that you should always give your supporters more ways to connect with your nonprofit than just donating financially. Monthly donors need to feel an investment in your nonprofit’s cause, and it’s easier to form a connection when they feel personally involved with your nonprofit’s success, which can be challenging to hold their attention if they are only ever treated like an ATM. Take into account how each donor responds to your messages, and tailor further communication to suit their preferences. For example, some donors may prefer email but appreciate phone calls thanking them for significant contributions. Use your CRM to track key donor data that notes your supporters’ recent engagement activities and other relevant information you can use in your communication with them.
5. Invest in your CRM.
Your CRM hosts all of your nonprofit’s vital donor and gift information. As you grow your monthly giving program, you’ll need a comprehensive nonprofit CRM to equip your team with the necessary tools for organizing and maintaining monthly giving data. If your nonprofit has yet to invest in a CRM or is considering switching software, look for one with features that will benefit your monthly giving program such as:
- Donor profile creation. Your CRM should automatically collect information from each donor to create a dedicated profile for each of your supporters. This allows your nonprofit to organize donor data so that they can leverage information to identify potential monthly donors. Profiles also help your team keep track of where each supporter is on their donor journey, helping to maintain better donor relationships.
- Payment processing. Few CRMs come with payment processing tools, but finding a solution that allows you to create custom donation pages and process gifts can help streamline your giving process. Additionally, your nonprofit can also use your payment processing features to track monthly payments and get in touch with any monthly donors who experience payment failures.
- Communication and messaging tools. Regular communication helps your nonprofit maintain consistent relationships with your monthly donors. Your CRM should come with several communication templates, allowing your nonprofit to tailor your messages to each monthly donor.
Integrating features will help streamline your data and prevent your team from spending hours re-entering information into each system. You may also select an all-in-one solution to reduce the time that would otherwise be spent looking for vital add-ons to support your monthly giving program.
Your monthly giving program lets your nonprofit receive reliable and consistent streams of donations each month, allowing you to make long-term financial plans. Growing your program increases these benefits and can be accomplished by listening to your donors and providing them with the tools to give. Attract new donors by offering incentives and making your donation process as easy as possible. Then, maintain this growth by investing in the software you need and following up with each donor to build a positive relationship.
This article was contributed by Leigh Kessler, VP of Marketing and Communications at CharityEngine.