Recurring gifts are a way for one person to make a lasting contribution to a nonprofit. For the organization, monthly giving offers a steady stream of revenue, a luxury that many nonprofits desire given the seasonal nature of fundraising. Furthermore, recurring gifts often increase the annual value of a donor. Someone who has given $50 in the past year might be persuaded to commit to $10 a month, which more than doubles their annual contribution.
A monthly giving program is a worthwhile initiative, no matter what sector your organization works in. Unfortunately, too many nonprofits don’t do much to encourage recurring donations. Like any donation, you need to promote the impact and emotional value of a recurring gift. Here are five ways nonprofits can boost their monthly giving programs and create a stream of reliable income to support your work all year round.
1. Name Your Program
Monthly donors are a special segment of your audience and should be treated accordingly. A great way to differentiate and celebrate your recurring giving program is to give members a special title. This creates a different, more intimate relationship with these supporters who commit to regular donations.
Possible, a nonprofit bringing life-saving healthcare to Nepal, calls their monthly donors Possibilists.
Pencils of Promise calls their program Passport, emphasizing the global scale of their educational impact. While a one-time donor can help fund a school in Laos or Nicaragua, Passport members are part of a journey bringing education to children all over the world.
2. Show Member Benefits
Part of creating a community of monthly givers involves offering them something beyond the regular donation experience. While traditional donor swag like tote bags and coffee mugs have been falling out of style, organizations can still give monthly supporters something extra.
On their recurring gifts page, Possible highlights the monthly videos and letters from the CEO that Possibilists receive.
Pencils of Promise offers similar perks, in the form of impact stories, photos from the field, and a year-end surprise.
Donors want their recurring gifts to go toward programs, so the best benefits you can offer are evidence of your success.
3. Match Recurring Gifts With Impact
Most nonprofits already know the value in linking donations with specific results and the practice is also a smart way to make a monthly donation tangible. Project Concern International (PCI) works to create community health and sustainable development in more than 15 countries and their Think Forward monthly giving program asks donors to invest in developing communities. While their goals are big, they do a great job of conveying the real-world impact of different recurring gifts.
Watsi is a newer nonprofit that teams up with healthcare organizations to provide high-impact procedures all over the world. Part of the reason their monthly giving campaign is so successful is that they link the recurring gift with a different patient and medical procedure each month.
A monthly giver can lose enthusiasm if they aren’t seeing the results of their generosity. Highlight the impact of recurring gifts as you recruit and engage monthly supporters.
4. Recognize Your Members
To drive home the importance of monthly donors, you should take extra steps to show your appreciation. Naturally, you should send a sincere thank you and update them with impact stories, but don’t forget to recognize monthly donors in more visible ways.
For example, Possible called out their 119th possibilist on Twitter. This small gesture shows that the donors commitment is meaningful and notable to the nonprofit.
— Possible (@possiblehealth) January 21, 2015
Another great way to acknowledge recurring givers is by listing their names on the campaign webpage. Often, it is only the wealthy who can see their name in the donor lists that appear on annual reports and event programs. Creating a “wall of fame” for your recurring donors allows you to recognize those who partner with your organization, no matter how much they can afford to pledge.
5. Promote The Campaign
It doesn’t matter how great your organization is or how compelling your cause is if nobody knows about it. Donors can’t give to campaigns they don’t know exist. This is why nonprofits cannot overlook the need to promote their monthly giving program to their audience at large.
Start by creating a microsite or at least a separate page on your site to introduce and explain your recurring gifts campaign. You are building a community of lasting support, and this community deserves its own space on your site.
Your monthly giving program should also be easy to find on your website. Possible’s homepage has eye-catching calls to action, not only for one-time donations but for monthly giving as well.
Posting about your monthly giving option can expose different audiences to it and celebrate the progress you’re making.
A robust monthly giving program not only builds a community of engaged and invested donors, but also creates a reliable stream of revenue that allows you to make long-term plans. Apply these tips to your own recurring gifts program to reach more donors and promote a sense of community and partnership.
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