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7 best practices for launching a monthly giving program

June 29, 2021
A donor sits with a laptop on one knee and a phone in hand to participate in text-to-give fundraising.

Retaining dedicated supporters is essential for nonprofit organizations looking to achieve sustainable growth. Monthly giving programs are commonly used to re-engage donors after their first donation and improve donor retention rates.

These programs allow supporters to automatically give a fixed amount each month, providing your nonprofit with a reliable source of income and stronger donor relationships. Plus, studies show that monthly donors give 42% more in one year than one-time donors.

But, monthly giving programs require different maintenance and management than your general donation program. If your organization is considering implementing its own recurring giving program, here are some best practices to keep in mind.

1. Streamline the giving process with technology

Nonprofits need two key technological solutions to acquire monthly givers: a monthly giving page and a CRM.

donor management system (or CRM) is a solution that allows you to store important donor information. Using a system that can automate the monthly giving program signup process, track and update donor contact data, and process payments is crucial.

On your website’s monthly giving page, offer the following information:

  • The benefits of your monthly giving program
  • The impact of each giving level
  • How supporters can join

To make your giving program even more appealing, include compelling stories and imagery. Don’t forget to simplify the signup process by integrating a digital sign-up form into your website that connects to your CRM. 

2. Explain the benefits of monthly giving

You should also consider that you’ll need to change (or upgrade) the giving behaviors of your existing supporters. Donors who are used to making one or two single gifts each year toward specific fund drives need to be convinced that a recurring donation is a sound investment.

Advertise your monthly giving program by stating these benefits for donors:

  • Giving a small amount over time is more sustainable than giving a large gift at once
  • It provides your nonprofit with a stable financial foundation over time
  • Your organization’s payment processor will automatically withdraw the funds for peace of mind
  • You can write off donations from your taxes

Emphasize that making a smaller impact over a long period of time has a long-lasting impact on your purpose and beneficiaries so your donors understand that they’re still making an important contribution.

3. Target potential recurring givers

It’s easier to convert one-time donors into lifetime recurring donors if you know where to find them. Use list segmentation to identify existing donors with the most promise: those who give frequently (more than three times in 12 months) and recently (in the past 1-3 months).

However, you should still target supporters who don’t necessarily donate frequently, but who share a passion for your cause. A good place to start is your most active advocacy campaign supporters. Individuals who regularly engage with your online petitions and targeted actions make great candidates for monthly giving.

Using a CRM, organizations can identify which constituents are more likely to be interested in joining a monthly giving program. For instance, an organization’s large gift donors may not be interested in a monthly giving program and would rather give in one lump sum. However, individuals that give at lower levels may be more interested in participating in a recurring program and giving smaller amounts each month.

4. Offer multiple levels of giving

Even if a supporter’s initial donation is small, their level of giving can be raised over time by offering different donation amounts. In your appeals, include a range of donation amounts and add a recurring giving option. 

Once a supporter agrees to automatically give to your cause each month, it is important to give them the flexibility to change the amount. And, remember to be transparent and share with them exactly where and how the funds will be used for each respective giving amount. 

5. Make recurring donors feel special

Monthly donors are integral to your organization’s stability and success, so you owe it to them to make them feel special and thank them. Consider hosting exclusive donor appreciation events for your monthly giving program members, such as a monthly luncheon or meet-and-greet with your beneficiaries. These events will keep them engaged in your nonprofit so that they don’t fall out of touch with you.

Also, be sure to recognize your donors permanently with a donor wall. Separate your monthly givers by donation amount or length of time in the program, and put them on a virtual or physical commemoration wall either on your website or in your office. This way, you can always show your donors that you’re thinking of them, even when you aren’t hosting an event.

6. Update monthly givers on the impact of their contributions 

Since monthly donors are automatically and regularly donating to your cause, you likely won’t be sending them messages soliciting another donation.

However, you should still keep them in the loop by updating them about your organization. It is imperative to show them the impact of their contributions on a regular basis with images, stories, statistics, and other concrete examples. This will help your donor understand the gravity of their contributions and prove to them that their investment in your program is well-founded.

7. Measure your monthly giving program’s success

Measuring the success of your program is going to differ from your regular fundraising initiatives. Instead of just looking at short-term metrics, like net revenues booked per month, remember to monitor and measure key metrics with a longer timeframe, such as:

  • Response metrics for your sustainer program marketing activities (email opens, clickthroughs, etc)
  • Number of recurring donation sign-ups per month versus one-time gifts
  • Monthly gift upgrades

Your monthly giving and general fundraising initiatives are different, so be sure to treat them that way by analyzing metrics unique to your monthly giving program.

The impact of monthly giving

Monthly donors are a valuable asset to today’s nonprofit organizations. They fall into a unique category of supporters and should be approached with strategic and personalized messaging.

Creating a successful monthly giving program can seem challenging, but making a concerted effort to form lasting relationships with dedicated donors that continuously support your organization is worth the investment.

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