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Nonprofits Can’t Afford to Ignore Monthly Giving


By Allison Gauss

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Published August 15, 2017 Reading Time: 4 minutes

Donor attrition and the seasonality of fundraising are two giant problems that nonprofit organizations grapple with today. Since we know that it costs more to acquire a new donor than it does to retain one, keeping donors engaged and giving is preferable to trying to constantly entice people unfamiliar with your work.

But the nonprofit fundraising calendar is cyclical, typically reaching a crescendo at the end of the year. If your donor engagement is concentrated in a couple of campaigns and events that are months apart, it can be hard to cultivate and reignite the passion that drove them to give in the first place.

Fortunately, there’s a fundraising strategy that solves for both of these challenges, and it’s one you already know about: recurring giving. When donors opt into a monthly gift, retention becomes much easier. And monthly recurring revenue gives your nonprofit a reliable source of income. When you can count on a certain level of revenue, you’re in a much better position to plan for the future.

But many social impact organizations still don’t prioritize monthly giving. It’s one of those things you know you should do, but it just never feels urgent enough to address. With proposed federal budget cuts and changing donor demographics, it’s never been more important for nonprofits to secure repeat individual gifts. Nonprofit organizations need to stop thinking of monthly giving as a luxury or a “someday” project and take steps to create a program that attracts support, nurtures members, and develops sustained revenue for years to come.

The Monthly Giving Routine

Because monthly donors can make such a big impact on your nonprofit’s financial sustainability, it can feel like a very big ask. No organization wants to bother or alienate their audience, but what nonprofits need to realize is that monthly payments are a huge part of everyday life in the United States and many other countries.

In fact, the “membership economy” is a growing part of the financial landscape. People pay monthly not just for housing and insurance, but also for TV and movie access, music streaming, pre-made meals, and much more. The leap from a Netflix membership to a monthly donation is not that far. You could even consider marketing a monthly gift by comparing it to these costs. If someone can afford a $10 Spotify subscription, show them what impact a monthly donation of the same amount would make.

Part of what makes monthly subscription services so attractive is that the process is so simple. Consumers need only enter their billing information once and the cost is automatically collected by the vendor. With modern fundraising software, recurring giving can be just as easy. When you make it easier to support your cause, your community may surprise you with their generosity.

Create a Monthly Giving Experience

Deciding to prioritize monthly giving is a huge step for a nonprofit. But there’s much more to an effective recurring giving program than just a donation form. Although making a recurring gift has never been easier, you still have to give donors a reason to make that commitment. Here are some powerful ways to market your monthly giving program.

Create Group Identity

When a supporter chooses to make a monthly gift to your organization, they show a real interest in your mission and a willingness to help. You have to reflect back to them that they are going above and beyond. One way to do this is to treat monthly donors as an elite or special group of supporters.

You can create this experience by…

  • Giving your monthly giving program, or its members, a name
  • Offering increased access or exclusive updates and opportunities
  • Giving out a simple donor premium that shows their commitment to the cause
monthly giving program microsite
Pencils of Promise calls their monthly giving program Passport and created this microsite for it.

Link Donations to Impact

One of the challenges of charitable fundraising is making a clear connection between donations and impact. When promoting your monthly giving program, take care to show how different gift sizes make a difference.

donation sizes
For Technoserve’s Partners in Prosperity program, they show the impact of different monthly donations.
Pro Tip
Use impact blocks to show donors what their gift provides.

Publicly Thank and Promote Members

A little praise goes a long way. Along with thank you messages through email or direct mail, incorporate recurring donor acknowledgments into your greater communications strategy. This reinforces to the donor that their gift is appreciated and does not go unnoticed. Furthermore, it provides social proof to other supporters that people like them have already chosen to make a monthly gift.

thank monthly donors
Canuck Place Children’s Hospice gives a shout out to their monthly donors on Twitter.

Next Steps

Whether you’re just getting started with monthly giving or you’re rebooting an existing program, you can use these ideas to start attracting support and cultivating reliable revenue.


Investing in recurring giving is one of the smartest things you can do for the longtime health of your nonprofit. Although a thriving program requires some initial effort, you don’t need to have all the pieces in place from the beginning. You can start small and build your base of support for years to come.

For tons of recurring giving tips and strategies, download the Nonprofit’s Guide to Recurring Giving below.

A Nonprofit's Guide to Recurring Giving

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