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Monthly Recurring Donations—A Win for Both Nonprofit and Donor

Ever wonder if it’s worth investing time and funds to attract more monthly donors? You’re darn right it is.

Without seats filled by supportive fans, a team won’t win many games. We can all picture the sad, quiet scene. It doesn’t matter if they’re the more talented team because we need support in our lives, and without it motivation and success fade. This isn’t about sports—don’t worry.

What I would like to share is why any nonprofit striving to scale has a shot if they’re able to fill more seats with monthly recurring donors—the true fans of your cause. If you’ve already set a goal to build your monthly donor base, stick with me because I’ll also get into how you can tailor your impact messaging to convert more one-time donors to recurring donors.

Those who give on a recurring basis are over five times more valuable than one-time donors to an organization’s long-term growth.

According to Classy’s yearly report, The State of Modern Philanthropy 2021, those who give on a recurring basis are over five times more valuable than one-time donors to an organization’s long-term growth. On the surface that may seem obvious. But when considering the average one-time gift to a nonprofit in 2020 was around $140 and the average monthly gift was around $40, we end up with a value proposition for both nonprofit and donor.

Let’s say a donor typically donates $120 dollars one time on Giving Tuesday or during a fundraising campaign because it’s the amount their monthly budget allows. They’d like to give more but can’t swing it all at once. But spread out over 12 months it’s $10 a month, a smaller bite out of the budget, which they might even want to increase (and often do).

On top of monthly donations, 23% of recurring donors add an additional one-time gift on top of their regular scheduled gifts throughout the year, says Classy.

These donors also tend to be more engaged with your email newsletters, social media content, and peer-to-peer fundraising efforts. Your nonprofit mission deserves the simple value of a strong recurring donor base.

Consistent and predictable revenue year-round

Nearly all business was forced to adapt to the pandemic, in many cases shaking companies loose of prior operating models permanently. Cause-driven organizations were no exception. The uncertainty, unemployment, food insecurity, and other urgent needs suddenly worsened by COVID shifted donors’ and nonprofits’ focus to supporting pandemic-related efforts. It’s times like these where having consistent streams of revenue makes a big difference.

We know how difficult it can be to plan for future programs when most of your revenue comes in at the end of the year or a mid-year fundraiser.

Being able to predict a larger portion of your operating budget year-round provides the peace-of-mind to say ‘yes’ to that new outreach event or impactful program you want to launch as well as a buffer against unexpected outside pressures. But thanks to your most valuable donors who give month-to-month vs all at once, you can work and rest easier knowing you have consistent incoming funds.

How you can inspire more recurring donors in 2022

So, you’re gaining new donors, but most are sending in donations one at a time, and you’d like to convert their every-so-often gifts to automated monthly donations. The best place to begin what’s commonly referred to as donor cultivation—building better relationships with your donors to keep them invested in your mission—is understanding where they are in the journey and their different levels of commitment.

To keep it simple, let’s stick to three broad donor segmentations: New one-time donors, existing non-recurring donors, and monthly recurring donors. In each group you have donors who believe in your cause enough to donate and in turn expect to be appreciated, updated on impact (specifically theirs), and feel a part of the mission. However, how much or how often will differ by segment.

There is incredible opportunity for new incoming donors to feel immediately welcomed into the community.

Give them the grand tour. Show them what your team has accomplished. Invite them to see where your mission is actively creating the most impact. You can do this with a new donor welcome series.

A donation from a first-time donor is a new friendship

Don’t pass around the job-well-dones too fast when a gift from a new donor comes in, you have work to do. That’s merely the start to a, hopefully, long relationship.

A new donor welcome series are (ideally) automated emails sent to a donor when they begin their journey with your organization, which starts with an initial donation. It’s an opportunity for you to start this new relationship off on the best track possible, by, most importantly, showing gratitude for their gift as well as welcoming them to a community supporting your great cause.

Don’t forget to always include the impact. A series of emails welcoming your newest donors should always remind them their gift is making an impact.

Welcome series emails should be optimized through timing, storytelling, and additional asks—that next call to action. And to keep tugging on the same thread, a CTA to become a monthly donor belongs in your welcome series, but the timing of a new ask should be selected strategically.

If you agree first impressions are everything, make sure your donors see your best side from the start, and leave them feeling confident that their donation went to a professional and impactful mission.

Show your monthly recurring donors some love—a lot of it

By now you’re probably on board with the importance of adding more monthly supporters. Great! Like cultivating a new donor relationship, recurring donors also deserve the star treatment. We might argue they deserve the whole red carpet.

Treat them with special updates, swag, the whole nine yards. And it’s ok to tell them they’re receiving specialized access to your mission. They’ve earned it, and it’s part of cultivating the relationship.

I always recommend creating a welcome series specifically for new monthly donors too. They’re just like emails to new donors but with an added layer of gratitude frosting on the cake.

Like cultivating a new donor relationship, recurring donors also deserve the star treatment.

(Side note: having the right tech integrations to track your donor base will allow you to see if a recurring donor is an existing donor or went straight to monthly, which can improve the personalization of your message.)

Recurring donors understand their value and it’s not overreaching to assume they’re among your donors with the highest level of commitment to your cause. Whatever impact your mission creates, let them know often how they’ve contributed to it.

If you’re ready to take the next step, consider doing what our veteran-led disaster response friends at Team Rubicon did—and many other nonprofits have done—by branding your community of monthly donors. Team Rubicon named the group “The Support Squad” and has seen steady growth of new members, which is currently over 2,000 monthly donors. (Give the case study a read and see how the CauseMic team helped them add thousands in monthly revenue.)

Is your tech up for the task in 2022?

It can be overwhelming for nonprofits researching how to launch a digital transformation. Matt recently published a piece on budgeting for your nonprofit’s digital transformation. In it, he breaks down an incremental strategy for choosing the right tech not the best tech.

Why buy a Ferrari when a Honda will get you exactly where you need to go?

Consider your immediate goals. Improving the look and frequency of your communications with insights to grow your list of supporters while building better relationships with your donors can be accomplished with a smaller price tag than a fully integrated tech stack, which may not be useful to your team right now.

Simple tech add-ons can give your marketing and fundraising efforts the jolt they need to bring in more recurring gifts and convert current one-time donors to monthly supporters.

Attract more recurring donors in the New Year!

There’s good news in recurring donation trends. In 2020, monthly giving grew by 25% and made up 19% of all online donations, based on the M+R Benchmarks Report 2021. At CauseMic, we see it as room for growth.

The nonprofit industry at large is aware that building a loyal base of recurring donors contributes more value in cultivating the donor-to-mission relationship, higher lifetime gift amount, and long-term growth plus impact compared to donations made one at a time. However, the investment needs to be put into action if nonprofits hope to inspire more recurring donors.

If you’re excited to unlock consistent, reliable revenue streams year-round for your nonprofit mission, we at CauseMic would love to help.

A short list of our services to help your team create consistent, reliable revenue:

  •  Reframing donor messaging for greater impact via recurring gifts
  •  Monthly donations portal set-up on your website
  •  Monthly donor acquisition strategy
  •  Donor relationship cultivation and welcome series guidance
  •  Communications campaign
  •  Paid advertising

Let’s get to work. Schedule a free one-on-one conversation and bring your challenges along with your goals. We will help make them a reality for your nonprofit mission.

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