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How to create and promote a recurring gifts program

March 21, 2021
This pair of fundraisers is working to develop their nonprofit organization's recurring gift program.

A recurring gifts program can open up productive opportunities for your nonprofit organization to develop a sustainable revenue stream and provide convenient ways for donors to give their long-term financial support. These monthly gifts add a boost to your funds and free up your resources for other fundraising efforts.

Due to the recent popularity of online payments, opting into recurring donations has never been easier for your supporters. Additionally, a compelling monthly giving campaign gives your nonprofit a new offer to promote and can become a signature program for your organization.

If your nonprofit is eager to reap the benefits of monthly gifts, take the time to lay the groundwork for success. In this guide, we’ll walk through how to build an effective recurring gifts program, then discuss some tips for promoting it to your supporters.

Building your recurring gifts program

Maximize the benefits of monthly giving by mapping out how your organization plans to interact with recurring donors. First, evaluate your organization’s goals and priorities to create a strategy for attracting and retaining monthly donors. Then, focus on facilitating the recurring gifts process to encourage your supporters to get involved.

Develop your strategy

Before you launch your recurring gifts program, set aside some time to plot out your communication strategy. This will allow you to tailor your messages to supporters more effectively to convince them to become a recurring donor. A few key questions to guide your strategy include:

  • Who will you invite to become a monthly donor?
  • How and when will you contact them?
  • What are the benefits of your recurring gifts program?

Review your existing donor profiles for an easy starting point for your strategy. For instance, previous donors who’ve given small amounts multiple times throughout the year may be ideal prospective monthly donors to reach out to. Figuring out these details in advance will allow your organization to focus your time and efforts on achieving the best results for your program.

Lay the foundation for recurring donations

As with any other successful program or campaign, the easier it is for your supporters to get involved, the more likely they are to do so. Therefore, construct your program so that the process for making recurring gifts is as convenient as possible for donors.

To maximize recurring giving results, follow these best practices:

  • Identify your recurring gifts prospects. Prospective monthly donors could include previous event attendees, smaller one-time donors, or individuals who have been impacted by your work.
  • Optimize your nonprofit’s website. Make sure your website visitors can easily find your donation button so they can quickly give to your organization. Consider setting up a separate page specific to monthly giving to draw more attention to the program.
  • Add a recurring gifts option to your donation page. This will allow donors to opt into your program with just a single click. Offer multiple suggested amounts with impact labels that show what each recurring donation provides. For instance, a nonprofit animal shelter could share that a $10 monthly gift covers 10 meals for animals, while $30 a month can support medical treatments for an animal.
  • Feature monthly giving in fundraising messages. Incorporate information on your recurring gifts program into a prominent place on your website and in all of your fundraising communications.
  • Allow donors to update their information. Include a monthly giving option for donors when they update their profiles so they have the flexibility to opt in or out whenever they desire.
  • Set up automatic receipts. Automatic receipts provide a quick and easy way to notify donors that their contributions are going through each month.
  • Segment your donors. Use your donor management system to segment your supporters to specifically contact monthly donors, track your program’s success, and report on the impact of their gifts.

By implementing these best practices, your organization will be able to create a recurring gifts program that prioritizes the donor experience, thereby encouraging more prospects to get involved in monthly giving.

Promoting your monthly giving program

Once your infrastructure is in place, the key to securing monthly gifts is communication. Let your donors know how their monthly gifts will sustain your organization—and how easy it is to participate.

The process for promoting your recurring gifts program will typically look like this:

  1. Launch: Although you can start your monthly giving program whenever your organization is ready, employing a particular theme and setting a program start date can help get it off the ground.
  2. Inform: Let your donors know why monthly gifts are a win-win. Smaller, automatic gifts have less of an impact on their monthly budget. Recurring donations give your cause a steady stream of support.
  3. Remind: Send out regular updates in emails or direct mail at and following your program’s launch to keep your supporters informed and eager to get involved. Make it a regular habit to ask for a monthly pledge.

As supporters choose to get involved in your recurring gifts program, follow up regularly and thank them for their contributions. By emphasizing the impact of their monthly gifts, you’ll develop stronger and longer-lasting relationships with your recurring donors.

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