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6 tips to keep in mind as you ask for monthly donations

September 27, 2021
A group of four colleagues work together at a shared desk while deciding how to ask for monthly donations.

Monthly donors provide your nonprofit organization with a stable and secure revenue stream, allowing you to bring in consistent funding from month to month. Once you’ve set up a monthly giving program that’s simple to join, there are many ways to ask supporters to become sustaining donors.

To attract as many donors as possible, your ask needs to be persuasive with both analytical and emotional appeals. Let’s explore a brief explanation about why monthly gifts matter, then dive into six ways to raise more monthly donations.

Why is monthly giving important?

Monthly giving allows your fundraising program to receive reliable gifts on a monthly basis. It’s a win-win for you and your donors because:

  • Supporters can give conveniently with automatic donations. 
  • Donors who would rather give small gifts over time than one large gift have the flexibility to do so.
  • Nonprofits tend to earn more from monthly giving: the average monthly online donation is $52 ($624 per year) compared to the average one-time gift of $128. 

Your nonprofit should make your subscription fundraising program a priority to improve monthly revenue. To encourage donors to upgrade to monthly contributions, you’ll need to refine your monthly donation request strategies.

1. Segment your audiences

As a nonprofit with a diverse donor base, you should strive to take a unique approach to your monthly ask for each donor. Try segmenting your messaging so that you can more effectively communicate with your donors. Here are some segmentation criteria to implement:

  • Time of year. Your nonprofit likely receives more donations at the end of the year due to holiday fundraising campaigns. Use your constituent relationship management system (CRM) to determine which times of the year have an uptick in donations. Then, segment donors who give during those times and send them specialized messages encouraging them to convert to monthly gifts to make a sustainable impact year-round.
  • Preferred mode of communication. Assess your data and determine which of your donors prefer which communication channels and make your monthly ask through those channels. This will make it more likely your prospects will see your asks and give.
  • Time spent with the organization. It is generally easier to persuade a loyal supporter to join your monthly donation program than a new donor. Use segmentation to target donors based on how long they’ve been active with your organization. 

By customizing your communications with donors, you maximize your chances of reaching them and making a successful monthly ask. Work with your team to determine which groups make sense for you to segment and target.

2. Make it the top priority

Your monthly giving program should be front and center across your promotional materials. Get in the habit of inviting your community to become monthly donors. Whenever you ask for donations—on your website, in your email appeals, or in a direct mail appeal—ask for a monthly gift. 

For example, UNICEF makes their monthly donation option easily accessible on their online donation form. They added a heart next to the monthly option to demonstrate that this option has a greater impact.

UNICEF has a clear donation page that describes their program and features a donation form with buttons that ask for monthly donations.

3. Start small

Remember: small gifts add up. To earn reliable revenue in the long run, focus on inviting donors into your monthly giving program with a realistic and humble amount. 

Start by asking donors to consider a monthly gift that’s a third of your nonprofit organization’s average one-time gift. If your average single donation is $35, set your first monthly gift level at $10, then bump up the ask incrementally. This strategy positions your ask at a more accessible level so that you can gradually ask for a larger monthly gift. 

The Liz Logelin Foundation has an ad that asks for monthly donations. The ad features the text: "'Skip the Latte.' Help a family in need for just $7 a month for the love of Liz."

The Liz Logelin Foundation encourages donors to give “$7 on the 7th” to help widows and widowers with young families. This campaign helps donors realize it’s possible to create a big impact for a small amount each month. The slogan “skip the latte” frames the commitment as small as a drink, encouraging a wide audience to contribute. 

4. Offer an appealing package

To strengthen your case for support, discuss your work in your ask and explain how it will be supported by recurring gifts. Some questions you should answer for your donors include:

  • What initiatives will recurring gifts fund at your nonprofit? 
  • How do these gifts add up to a specific and tangible impact? 
  • What’s the difference in impact between a one-time gift and a monthly gift?

Your job is to make it easy for donors to understand exactly what each monthly giving level will accomplish and how it will boost your impact.

This example from charity: water’s monthly giving page clearly ties an ongoing need to the solution donors can provide through their monthly gift.

charity:water’s monthly giving page asks for monthly donations with a button that says “Donate monthly.”

Using the $40 metric clearly demonstrates the appeal of a monthly gift. Also, the use of the word “community of monthly donors” reinforces the concept of collective philanthropy and creates a strong feeling of togetherness that helps new and existing donors understand why ongoing support is so critical.

5. Help monthly donors feel important

Give monthly donors a special status and celebrate them in a unique way on your website. Reserve special perks for these loyal supporters, such as a sneak peek at your newsletter, first dibs on event tickets, branded merchandise, or invitations to an open house. dubs their monthly donors Guardians, which perfectly fits the role of these sustainers in the work of saving and protecting animals. It also taps into the identity that these supporters likely want to achieve. After all, what animal lover wouldn’t want to be seen as a Guardian?

ASPCA asks for monthly donations with the following message: “We are a national leader in animal rescue, protection and placement, but none of it would be possible without regular monthly gifts from ASPCA Guardians."

Pinpoint the unique qualities of your monthly giving program and think about how they may appeal to your donors. Careful framing can go a long way in making your ask for recurring gifts stand out. You’ll create a better story in your supporters’ minds and inspire them to commit to monthly donations. 

6. Showcase your beneficiaries

One of your best cases for support is highlighting your initiatives and beneficiaries. Putting this information directly in front of your potential donors showcases the impact they can make through recurring gifts, persuading them to sign up for your monthly giving program. 

The best tool you have in your arsenal are emotional stories. Allowing your beneficiaries to recount their experiences with your organization helps show your prospects the impact their charitable contributions could have. Feature interview quotes from your beneficiaries about how support from your donors has impacted their lives, or share videos of them speaking on your social media.

Furthermore, don’t rely on words alone to convey your stories. Photo and video content can transcend language, engage supporters in a new way, and reach a wider audience. For instance, Village Enterprise features a video of their beneficiaries on their website so donors can tangibly see who’s benefiting from their donation. 

This screenshot of a Village Enterprise video called “One Million Lives” shows a beneficiary working in a field before asking for monthly donations.

Next steps: Ask for monthly donations

Monthly donations are a crucial part of leveling up your fundraising revenue, so ensure your requests are as persuasive as possible. 

Work with your team to make your asks personalized, emotional, and appealing. This entails calculating the exact impact of each gift and adding a unique flair to your monthly giving program. Ensure you’re equipped to succeed with a fundraising platform and a CRM that can send out your nonprofit’s customized messages to potential monthly givers. 

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