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7 Ways to Boost Recurring Donor Acquisition at Your Nonprofit

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Published February 28, 2023 Reading Time: 6 minutes

Boosting your nonprofit’s recurring donor acquisition can help establish a consistent stream of revenue, improve cash flow, and provide much-needed support during fallow periods. Even though monthly donors generally give smaller amounts on a per-gift basis, they are over five times more valuable to your nonprofit than one-time donors and are more likely to take additional actions for your nonprofit on top of their monthly gift.

Download the Ultimate Guide to Recurring Giving

In 2012, Operation Broken Silence launched a recurring giving program out of necessity to establish a consistent stream of revenue due to a lack of support from grantmakers. Since bringing its recurring giving program to Classy in 2015, the nonprofit has seen a staggering 1,128% increase in its number of monthly donors and an 865% increase in monthly giving revenue

Get ready to reimagine your fundraising strategy with recurring acquisition goals that have the potential to fuel your cause for the long term.

Recurring Donor Acquisition Tips from a Leading Nonprofit

In 2012, Operation Broken Silence launched a recurring giving program to establish a consistent revenue stream due to grantmakers’ lack of support. Building a recurring giving program through the Classy giving platform in 2015 led the organization to incredible donor acquisition and revenue. This revenue stream continues to empower Sudanese heroes through childhood education and healthcare.

In addition to using Classy’s simple recurring gift features, here are seven recurring donor acquisition strategies Operation Broken Silence shared to help you establish a reliable income stream.

Donor Acquisition Strategies to Boost Your Recurring Giving Program

1. Amplify Your CTA with a Sense of Urgency

Your call to action sets the tone for your campaign, so emphasize why support is critical and timely. Because the crisis in Sudan continues, and the Sudanese people still live in fear, Operation Broken Silence strategically leverages urgency in its messaging to engage donors and compel them to give.

example of a strong call to action

Operation Broken Silence uses its story to forge an emotional connection with donors and motivate them to take immediate action. For example, it leverages social media, an excellent platform to share timely appeals. You can also lean on nonprofit influencers to bring your message to their audiences and drive them back to your donation form.

If you’re looking for ideas, here are 10 social media post examples that drive engagement.

2. Identify the Right Target Audience

Identify prospective donors within your community who have shown consistent interest in your mission. It’s more likely that you’ll convert a supporter who’s already familiar with what you do versus someone coming across your page for the first time.

Knowing your ideal demographic of supporters is critical to increasing your donor acquisition rate. This knowledge can help you identify targeted opportunities to convert people into recurring donors based on their individual behaviors, preferences, and interests.

Operation Broken Silence targets two main audience segments as candidates for its recurring giving program: event attendees and donors who have given multiple one-time donations.

Segment your donor database into specific email lists to tailor each message to the specific audience you aim to convert. Classy’s Returning One-Time Donors Report can help you do this more efficiently by showing who has given more than one donation to your organization.

3. Add a Personal Touch to Your Outreach

A mass email is fast and easy, but when was the last time you engaged with a generic message that landed in your inbox? Phone calls and personalized emails can go a long way in establishing trust and rapport with recurring donors.

Every candidate for Operation Broken Silence’s recurring giving program receives a phone call or personalized email from a team member to introduce themselves to the donor, tell the organization’s story, and open the floor to any questions. The supporters’ questions typically indicate which program they’re most interested in, which the team uses as an opportunity to promote the most-aligned program designation option.

Whether the donor expressed interest in a particular program or not, the Operation Broken Silence team has still begun building a relationship with that person and establishing their connection with the organization.

To improve your email communications and encourage more recurring donors to take action, download these 8 templates to upgrade your recurring donors.

4. Promote Tier-Based Incentives

Offering unique perks to donors who contribute more significant gifts is a great way to incentivize and thank them accordingly.

At Operation Broken Silence, all recurring donors receive a membership pin and early access to new stories and campaigns. Those who give $35 or more per month also receive two free tickets to the organization’s annual events. Additionally, long-term recurring donors receive tickets to these events for friends and family.

Perks also include one-on-one conversations with potential donors. When this information comes from a human instead of a computer screen, it’s much more likely the donor will convert or increase their gift size to $35 or more to receive the benefits.

You can also try direct mail if that communication channel aligns with your target audience. Highlight your organization’s incentives and include a message that helps nurture your most loyal supporters and reminds them how much you appreciate their generosity.

screengrab of recurring givings incentives on a nonprofit website screengrab of recurring givings incentives on a nonprofit website

For more examples of unique recurring giving incentives, check out these 5 unique ways to thank recurring donors.

5. Encourage Existing Donors to Spread the Word

Lean into the power of networking by encouraging your existing recurring donors to share your nonprofit story with their inner circles and inspire others to get involved.

A critical behavioral insight is that people are often motivated to give to other people or a cause, not necessarily a nonprofit. That’s why organic conversations between donors and their cohorts can help boost your recurring donor acquisition strategy. It’s also great to incorporate a recurring donation appeal into your existing peer-to-peer fundraising strategy.

Operation Broken Silence leverages this approach when long-time donors bring guests to its annual fundraising events. It encourages existing donors to bring their friends and family to the recurring giving donation table to start a conversation and share why they’ve supported the organization for as long as they have. More often than not, the donor’s passion for Operation Broken Silence motivates their guests to join the program.

6. Prioritize Your Communication With Recurring Donors

The insight, feedback, and support from recurring donors are critical to your mission, so prove that with fast response times and transparent conversations.

The Operation Broken Silence team prioritizes their communication with recurring donors above all else to ensure that they feel appreciated and valued. Namely, their internal policy requires them to return every email or phone call from a recurring donor within 24 hours. This helps to reduce the number of lapsed donors who might leave if they don’t feel involved.

7. Emphasize the Impact of Boosting Your Gift Size

Once or twice a year, it’s beneficial to ask your recurring donors to increase their gift, even if it’s only by $5. Emphasize the impact each dollar makes by providing specific examples of the incremental work you could fund. Our latest report, Why America Gives, showcases that clearly understanding the impact of a donation is one of the most important aspects of preventing donor attrition.

Operation Broken Silence sends out a branded email to all recurring donors once a year, asking them to consider increasing their gifts. The organization also reaches out to all current donors who have had a positive status change that year, like a job promotion, to initiate the conversation from a different angle. This allows them to congratulate the donor on their accomplishment and encourages them to dedicate a portion of their increased income toward Operation Broken Silence’s mission.

Pro Tip: After a gift has been active for about a year, reach out and ask if an increased commitment is possible. Explain how their current giving level has impacted your mission and remind them that even a small addition could dramatically help your organization achieve its goal.

From Donor Acquisition to Donor Retention

A robust recurring giving program allows Operation Broken Silence to execute on its promises to the Sudanese community. By establishing a steady stream of revenue, the team has built a deep level of trust with their beneficiaries while strengthening retention rates with valuable donors. In turn, those donors have become loyal to the organization and grown alongside Operation Broken Silence as a community.

Take these donor acquisition strategies back to your team and experiment with what works best for your nonprofit audience. To learn more about elevating your nonprofit’s recurring giving program, check out our other resources:


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