4 Helpful Strategies for Maintaining Recurring Donors

4 Helpful Strategies for Maintaining Recurring Donors

Julia Claire Campbell Fundraising, Nonprofits, Online Fundraising Leave a Comment

This post is a guest blog by Dave Martin at CharityEngine

It can be tempting to concentrate all of your nonprofit’s communication efforts on acquiring new donors.

After all, if your goal is to raise more funds and further your mission, it seems logical to dedicate the majority of your time and resources to initiatives that tell first-time supporters what your organization does and how to get involved.

Donor acquisition can lead to organizational growth, but only if you also focus on maintaining those new supporters and turning them into recurring donors.

These recurring donors can then provide sustainable support for your nonprofit over time.

In this guide, we’ll walk through four helpful strategies to help your organization retain donors and encourage recurring gifts, including how to:

  1. Optimize Your Donation Form
  2. Leverage Matching Gifts
  3. Market Your Monthly Giving Program
  4. Use Donor Data to Inform Your Outreach

While donors can make recurring gifts at any interval of time (such as annually or quarterly), many nonprofits will set up an organized plan for donors to give monthly.

If your supporters sign up to make monthly gifts, you’ll have a steady stream of revenue coming in all year long, which provides essential financial support for your organization during slower fundraising months. Let’s explore how you can encourage supporters to make these monthly gifts. 

1. Optimize Your Donation Form

Your online donation form is one of the most important tools your nonprofit has to bring in recurring gifts. Online giving has become increasingly popular over the past several years, and donation forms can make monthly giving easy by streamlining recurring contributions. Instead of having to remember to contribute each month, supporters can set up their gifts automatically through your online donation form.

CharityEngine’s page on nonprofit donation forms suggests these tips to optimize your donation form for recurring gifts:

  • Brand the form to your organization to reassure supporters that their donations will be used to further your mission.
  • Offer suggested donation amounts and allow donors to give their chosen amount on a recurring basis with a single click.
  • Use a PCI-certified payment processor so donors know that their credit card or bank account information will remain secure when your organization keeps it on file for recurring donations. Utilizing an effective recurring billing software will also help streamline the process for your organization. 

Once you’ve optimized your donation form for recurring gifts, start driving traffic to it throughout your website. On each page of your site, include a call-to-action that leads supporters to your donation form so they can set up a recurring contribution as quickly and easily as possible.

2. Leverage Matching Gifts

To make your recurring donations go further over time, consider adding a matching gifts tool to your donation form. When a donor who works for a company with a matching gift program contributes to your organization and submits a match request, their employer will also give to your organization, usually at a 1:1 ratio. 

According to Double the Donation’s matching gift statistics, 84% of donors are more likely to contribute if they know their gift will be matched, and one in three survey respondents said they’d give more if matching funds were offered. Most eligible donors can also submit multiple match requests per year up to the company’s annual limit, encouraging them to donate on a recurring basis.

However, it’s estimated that up to $7 billion in matching funds goes unclaimed each year, mainly because many donors aren’t aware that their gifts are eligible to be matched. To help solve this problem and boost fundraising for your organization, include information on matching gifts in your donation confirmation emails and highlight that both one-time and recurring donors can submit match requests if they’re eligible.

3. Market Your Monthly Giving Program

Setting up an organized monthly giving program often helps maintain recurring donors. Doing so will allow you to reach out to these donors specifically and offer perks for being involved. To create a sense of community for donors involved in the program and encourage more individuals to join, try implementing a multi-channel marketing strategy.

Some marketing platforms you can use to promote your monthly giving program include:

  • Your nonprofit’s website. On your “Get Involved” page or its equivalent, include information about how monthly giving furthers your mission. Use storytelling strategies and relevant data to back up your points and engage supporters. Also, consider creating a page specifically for your monthly giving program where you can highlight specific benefits, share testimonials from recurring donors, and explain the steps to join.
  • Email marketing. Include information about your monthly giving program in your organization’s regular newsletter in addition to sending program-specific messages. Also, create an email segment just for your current monthly donors to thank them for giving to thank them for their continued support and provide updates on how their contributions have helped your nonprofit.  
  • Social media. At least once a month, create a post on each of your nonprofit’s accounts asking supporters to sign up for your monthly giving program and directing them to your website to learn more. You can also create spotlight posts to thank your current monthly donors and allow them to share why they continuously support your mission—with their permission, of course. 
  • Direct mail. Although many nonprofits focus on digital marketing, direct mail is still valuable! Send personalized appeals to supporters and include a QR code or easy-to-type link to your donation page where they can set up recurring gifts. Your current recurring donors have a strong connection to your nonprofit and will likely appreciate outreach that goes the extra mile, like handwritten cards in the mail.

By using a variety of marketing platforms, you’ll maximize your reach and continuously stay in touch with monthly donors. Promoting the program often is key to getting and retaining as much sustainable support as possible.

4. Use Donor Data to Inform Your Outreach

As you market your monthly giving program, consider how you could reach out to each donor personally. Your nonprofit has likely collected plenty of data on your current monthly donors, allowing you to create customized messages just for them.

When donors sign up for your monthly giving program, use donor data to stay in touch with them. Use your nonprofit CRM to make note of each donor’s preferred name and contact method so you can reach out to them personally. Immediately after a donor sets up a recurring gift, send them a thank-you message and a short survey about their donation experience to show you’re invested in starting a positive, long-term relationship.

Recurring donations are a vital part of your nonprofit’s fundraising success. Improve your strategies for attracting and retaining these donors by optimizing their donation experience. Then, take note of your donors’ communication preferences and other data to help you reach out with personalized messages, which allow you to maintain stronger relationships with them. Good luck!

About the author: Dave Martin

Dave Martin is the VP of Marketing for CharityEngine. He is a digital marketing expert with a unique combination of nonprofit and for-profit experience. Earlier in his career, Dave worked in global telecommunications marketing, product management, and product development both in the United States and Europe. Dave has a BA from the University at Buffalo, an MIA from Columbia University, and an MA from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Leuven, Belgium.

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