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Subscription giving: A new era of fundraising is here

September 01, 2021
Two nonprofit professionals look at a monitor while one types on a keyboard to develop a strategy to implement subscription giving.

Over the last decade, consumer buying habits have shifted towards subscription-based purchasing. From streaming T.V. to meal delivery services, consumers are becoming more comfortable signing on for regular, automatic payments. 

Subscription giving has many benefits. For donors, it is reliable and easy to use due to the automatic payments. It also allows them to give consistently to nonprofits whose purposes they connect with. For nonprofit organizations, subscription giving is a consistent revenue stream and a way to increase donor retention.

This article will explore how you can tailor your donation requests for subscription giving and cultivate relationships with your new subscription donors. Let’s begin!

Tailor your recurring donation asks

How many subscription or recurring donors does your nonprofit have? Whether you’re looking for your first subscription gift or you’re ready to expand the donors you already have, here are a few things you can do to make sure you’re promoting this opportunity:

  • Name your recurring donor group. Large nonprofit organizations often make their monthly gifts fundraising requests feel more exciting by inviting the reader to join an official group, such as charity: water’s The Spring monthly giving club. Naming your recurring group will make your new subscription donors feel like they’re a core part of your nonprofit’s community.
  • Optimize your donation page. Consider updating your online donation page and setting your default donation frequency to monthly. Make sure to place your subscription giving and one-time donation tracks on the same page so that donors can actively compare the different amounts.
  • Plan targeted appeals. Think about which of your donors would be best to invite to make a subscription gift. Align your requests to increase their value without asking donors to make a major jump in giving. For example, you might ask a donor who gives $100 annually to consider switching to a $10 subscription gift, boosting their total giving by $20 a year.
  • Incorporate subscription giving into your fundraising campaigns. You can turn new donors into recurring donors by promoting subscription gifts during your next campaign. Let your donors know how easy it is to sign up online via your donation page. Explain the impact subscription gifts will have on your cause, such as providing examples of what your nonprofit could accomplish with gifts of various amounts.

While you can reach out to new donors to promote subscription giving, your best prospects are likely already in your donor database. Look for donors who give in large amounts on a semi-frequent basis. Explore their engagement history and note campaigns they’ve given to in the past so you can approach them with requests that fit their giving habits and are aligned with their interests.

How to steward your subscription donors

Subscription donors are some of your most reliable supporters, and your nonprofit should build relationships to maintain them long-term. Think of subscriptions as your insiders or VIPs who are doing their part behind the scenes to help fulfill your nonprofit’s purpose.

In order to keep the relationship going, you should fulfill your side of the subscription and send a steady stream of communications designed to keep them up to date about your programs and the impact their gifts are making. There are a few types of communications you should send your subscription donors, including:

  • Welcome kit. Nonprofits that use direct mail communication can design welcome kits to officially welcome subscription donors to their organization. These kits can include information about your nonprofit’s history, details about your various ongoing programs, and even pieces of branded merchandise such as keychains or t-shirts.
  • Welcome emails. Set up an email series just for new subscription donors. These emails should introduce them to your nonprofit, highlight opportunities to get involved, and even include surveys for them to provide feedback about their donor experience. 
  • Event announcements. While you should inform all donors about fundraising events, you can make your subscription donors feel special by giving them special sneak peeks, early access to ticket sales, or even by announcing events to them earlier than to other supporters.
  • Donation appeals. Since subscription giving happens on a regular basis, be mindful of how you make future appeals to your subscription donors. Create a segment in your donor database dedicated to these donors and adjust your messages to acknowledge their ongoing support. Make them feel seen and recognized as a subscription donor before making your next ask.

Put some thought into your communication plan for your subscription donors. If you have a monthly e-newsletter, consider creating a second version exclusively for subscription donors. You can also create a schedule with regular updates about varying events and engagements to make sure you stay in touch.

Showing gratitude for subscription donors

The most important part of implementing a subscription giving program for your nonprofit is to acknowledge your donors’ generous recurring support. Showing your gratitude is essential—you can even consider having your executive director or board members send appreciation communications to these donors!

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