Ellie Burke
Ellie Burke

How Kindred Image Does Recurring Giving

Like many nonprofits, Kindred Image started with a small budget and a big dream. A group of young filmmakers produced a documentary about a Korean pastor, Lee Jong-rak, who selflessly took in unwanted children. They were so moved, they started an organization to end child abandonment in South Korea.

To secure and grow its work, the organization decided to launch a recurring giving program. The recurring giving program ensures Kindred Image can maintain its mission and—inspired by Pastor Lee’s legacy—gives supporters a chance to leave a legacy of their own. They called it “The Legacy.”

The Legacy

“We had a broad picture goal to establish the lifeblood of our organization. We identified recurring donors as one of the most important parts of fundraising, and knew that in order to sustain our work in South Korea, we needed to gather a team of people who would be willing to support us in the long term,” said Development Director Will Tober.

In six months, Kindred Image gained 199 new monthly donors.

The Legacy’s Recipe for Success: Strategy

Step One: Set a Campaign Goal

Kindred Image established a $40,000 yearly recurring revenue goal. An anonymous donor made a large gift and the team saw a messaging opportunity that would also increase the impact of the Legacy’s new members. Every dollar that came through the Legacy campaign would be matched by this anonymous donor’s generous gift. The strategy worked, and within six months, the organization generated $8,376 dollars in monthly recurring revenue.

Step Two: Establish a Target Audience

Before rolling out the Legacy program, the team identified which audiences to target for the initiative.

  • Group One: Emotion driven, one-time donors who tend to find Kindred Image through The Drop Box trailer or Facebook
  • Group Two: Current newsletter subscribers
  • Group Three: Individuals who gave more than once in the last year

Targeting segments enables you to craft messaging that you know will resonate better with each group.

For example, small one-time donors might be unsure about their ability to make a monthly gift. The appeal email to these donors can make a $5 a month donation relatable–think, “for the cost of a cup of coffee–and equate it to being part of a larger community of changemakers. In another example, segment out large donors who are already clearly invested in your cause and demonstrate how a monthly donation will sustain major programs or projects.

When the message resonates with supporters on a personal level, they will be more likely to contribute or join the cause.

Step Three: Develop a Campaign Plan

The team mapped out a detailed timeline for moving forward. They wrote out a communication strategy for the multiple donor touch points throughout the campaign, per segment, created key content pieces, and kicked off The Legacy with a soft launch on their website.

To start out, they introduced The Legacy to newsletter subscribers; sent a separate introduction to pre-existing recurring givers, asking them to raise their monthly contribution; promoted the program on social media.

Strategy aside, Kindred Image heavily invested in the following assets. We’ve seen similar components drive recurring giving success in other organizations as well.

The Legacy’s Recipe for Success: Assets

Stellar Design and Impactful Images

Successful recurring giving programs establish themselves as a same-but-separate initiative. Kindred Image named their program “The Legacy” in honor of Pastor Lee—around whom their organization revolves—but also as a representation of the passing of the torch from Pastor Lee to monthly contributors.

the-legacy-logoEvery site visit should be a special experience. Kindred Image employs impactful imagery on every page of the website, including the Legacy microsite. Use signature colors and consistent messaging and imagery to create a unique feeling that draws visitors deeper with every click or scroll.

Choose a recurring giving name and brand that fits with your organization’s overall look and feel, but that also sets it apart as a special initiative donors will want to experience.

How to do this on Classy: Use our design infographic, photography tip sheet, and campaign design guidelines to create stellar imagery. Classy’s new Fundraising Suite features customizable landing pages with space to add large banner images and featured media to help you tell an impactful story.

Dedicated Campaign Page

Give your recurring giving program a home. It distinguishes the initiative from other programs and allows you to tell a story specific to its outcomes. Campaign microsites, like the one built by Kindred Image, is a wonderful way to tell a powerful and dynamic story.


How to do this on Classy: If you don’t have all the resources or skill to build a full campaign microsite, use a Classy Crowdfunding page to launch a landing page for your program. The Crowdfunding landing page is highly customizable, with dynamic content blocks and impact levels, so you can tell a powerful campaign story without a single line of code.

Watch a Webinar About Crowdfunding on Classy

A Well-Crafted Story

Kindred Image pairs the right imagery with the right messaging to compel supporters to become supporting members of the Legacy.

Because supporters are often intimidated by the commitment of recurring giving, Kindred Image used a friendly and motivational tone to encourage action. Kindred Image uses action-oriented words and phrases such as, “Join,” “Leave your legacy,” and “Create a culture of life.” This is a positive way to get people to contribute monthly, versus phrases like “Commit Now.”

How to do this on Classy: Customize button text on your Classy landing pages, donation page, and emails. “Submit” is really meant as a placeholder text. Add a more compelling phrase you that is relevant to your campaign and ask. Also remember that short and sweet is the way to go when it comes to button text.

Personal Donor Stewardship

The difference between a mediocre donor stewardship strategy and a stellar one is a personal touch. The journey is never over with a recurring donor. Once a supporter joins The Legacy, Kindred Image maintains strong communication with them. They take the time to personally reach out and thank new recurring donors who join the program. (We’ve seen this work well for other organizations too). Donors are sent personal thank yous relative to their level of commitment.

  • Donors who give $25 or more per month receive a handwritten thank you note from Kindred Image’s development director.
  • Donors who give $100 or more per month receive a “protector package” including a sword shaped letter opener which symbolizes their protection of valuable lives in South Korea.
  • Donors who give $250 or more receive a letter from Pastor Lee and customized print.

Here are some other stewardship best practices used by Kindred Image:

  • Follow up quickly with any donor who chooses to discontinue their donation or has a payment card that is about to expire.
  • Humanize your work through a personal touch, like a phone call or hand-written note.
  • Make recurring donors feel special by granting them access to exclusive updates via a newsletter created just for them.

How to do this on Classy: Use Classy appeal emails to reach reach out to individual donors or, if you already use an email platform like MailChimp or Constant Contact, leverage their respective Classy integrations. When you make use of the all the tools at your fingertips to track donor data and reach out in meaningful ways, you’ll be better equipped to make those personal connections.

Track and Optimize

Kindred Image works continually to improve their processes and support the experience of their donors. In order to gain valuable insight for their operations, they monitor their campaign to identify trends and potential pain points. For example, they collect information from their donors on their donation page that helps them identify important donor behaviors.

One thing we really wanted to know was, ‘how did you hear about the Legacy? Where are you coming from when you visit our donation form?’ That information has allowed us to adjust our appeals and messaging…and to figure out what’s working best and maybe what isn’t landing with our supporters.”

Will Tober

How to do this on Classy: Collect this information on Classy by adding custom questions to your campaign’s donation page. You’re then able to use Classy’s reporting to export these answers, filter them, and analyze stats and trends.

Proof is in the Pudding

Kindred Image’s smart approach to their recurring giving program honors the legacy of Pastor Lee and the work of their entire organization. Over the course of an entire year, this dependable stream of income helps sustain their mission to create a culture of life around the world.

Our Legacy program continues to grow after the matching campaign’s completion, ensuring a secure future for Pastor Lee’s work in South Korea.

Will Tober
Director of Development

Where social entrepreneurs go to learn and grow

Join over 20,000 leaders just like you who get their weekly dose of technology, innovation, fundraising ideas, and the latest industry trends.

Subscribe to the Classy Blog