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5 Email Templates for Stronger Recurring Donation Appeals

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By Hannah Durbin

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Published May 20, 2022 Reading Time: 6 minutes

Well-crafted recurring donation appeals are critical to building, growing, and sustaining a robust recurring giving program.

A recurring donation appeal is a specific request for a donor to commit to an automated gift at a frequency of their choice. The difference between an appeal that drives conversions and one that falls flat is the use of descriptive language, engaging visuals, and a clear connection to impact.

To help you successfully convert returning donors into committed recurring supporters, we’ve crafted five email templates sure to resonate with any audience. Pair these templates with graphics whenever possible, like infographics, images, or visual markers. That extra touch can go a long way in driving donors to convert.

Harness the Power of Email to Boost Donor Acquisition

Twenty-six percent of online donors say email is the communication tool that most inspires them to give. When COVID-19 challenged nonprofits to adopt fully-remote operations in 2021, we saw donors respond to email appeals with even larger gifts. In fact, the average amount raised per 1,000 fundraising emails in 2021 jumped from $45 to $78 year over year.

To identify additional opportunities for targeted recurring appeals, it’s important to:

With these best practices in place, you will know exactly when it’s time to elevate your communications to inspire a recurring gift.

Template #1: Build social proof with a compelling donor testimonial

Donor testimonials are the pinnacle form of social proof. When deciding whether or not to donate to your cause, donors are consciously or subconsciously looking for validation from others that it’s a smart choice.

How to Leverage This Template at Your Nonprofit

If you already have a recurring giving program in place, tap on existing donors to share their first-hand experiences. Encourage them to explain why they upgraded to a recurring donation and how it has positively impacted their life.

Once you have a recurring donor (or donors) in mind, fill out the prompts that relate to your specific organizational information and then share this template with each individual to help get their creative juices flowing. Encourage each donor to customize the language as they see fit to speak to their unique experience, and be sure to emphasize how much you appreciate their time.

Hi [NAME],

It has always been extremely important to me to support the meaningful work of [ORGANIZATION NAME] and do my part to [ORGANIZATION MISSION STATEMENT].

As someone who [CONNECTION TO THE CAUSE], I feel called to support those going through similar challenges and advocate for the incredible work [ORGANIZATION NAME] is doing every day.

Since my very first interaction with [ORGANIZATION NAME], I’ve felt like a true part of the family. Upgrading my gift to a recurring donation has only strengthened that bond and allowed me to [OUTCOME].

I’ve now been a recurring donor for [LENGTH OF TIME], and I know that every dollar is going directly to [DESIGNATED PROGRAM/FUND] to [IMPACT OF DONATIONS]. Since day one, my giving experience has been seamless, and I’m confident that every future gift will strengthen my trust and connection to [ORGANIZATION NAME]’s good work.

Are you interested in joining me to amplify your impact? Become a recurring donor today. [LINK]

Template #2: Spark an emotional connection to your program with testimonials from beneficiaries 

The most valuable perspective on your organization’s impact comes from those your efforts help. Their views and experiences provide exclusive insight into your program’s effectiveness and, therefore, can inspire supporters to get involved.

How to Leverage This Template at Your Nonprofit

Identify a beneficiary who has openly expressed their appreciation for your nonprofit or who you believe could clearly communicate the tangible impact of each gift. Explain how much you value their perspective and how each testimonial provides your supporter base with greater insight into the impact of each gift.

Next, confirm that the beneficiary you’re reaching out to is comfortable with their name and photo being made public. Once you’ve received their approval, don’t forget to thank them for their participation with a meaningful note, phone call, or cup of coffee.

Once those two steps are complete, fill out the prompts that relate to your specific organizational information before passing it to your beneficiary. Invite them to add their own message and customize the language to reflect their experience.

Hi [NAME],

Did you know [RELEVANT STATISTIC(S) TO YOUR CAUSE]?

Before [ORGANIZATION NAME] began supporting [ME/MY FAMILY/MY COMMUNITY] in alignment with their mission to [ORGANIZATION MISSION STATEMENT], I [PERSONAL ANECDOTE ABOUT LIFE BEFORE RECEIVING SUPPORT]. Today, [PERSONAL ANECDOTE ABOUT LIFE NOW].

I hope you know that your personal commitment to [ORGANIZATION NAME]’s mission is the reason I’m able to experience [PERSONAL EXPERIENCE]. Your donations have helped me [TANGIBLE IMPACT EXAMPLES].

To show just how much I appreciate the contributions you’ve made to improve my life, I’m reaching out today with an exclusive invitation to join [ORGANIZATION NAME]’s recurring giving program, [PROGRAM NAME]. This loyal inner circle is reserved solely for donors like you who have gone above and beyond to change so many lives for the better.

Learn more about strengthening your impact by becoming a member of the [PROGRAM NAME] family to [TANGIBLE IMPACT OF RECURRING GIFT]. [LINK]

Template #3: Speak to the long-term impact of a recurring donation

A mature recurring giving program can help improve your nonprofit’s long-term planning and decision-making. Emphasize how this predictable stream of donations can help your organization model out its projected revenue, and remind donors that the impact of their gift will be felt for years to come.

How to Leverage This Template at Your Nonprofit

Determine which member of your team you would like this email to come from, then customize your message to reflect your organization’s unique long-term goals.

Hi [NAME],

Our [COMMUNITY/NATION/WORLD] is facing [PROBLEM(S) YOU’RE TRYING TO SOLVE]. We are on a mission to [SOLUTION], and your help can make our efforts go even further.

Our recurring giving program, [PROGRAM NAME], is your opportunity to extend the impact of your gift to be felt for years to come. With each recurring donation, our team is able to [TANGIBLE IMPACT], which brings us one step closer to our ultimate goal to eradicate [PROBLEM].

As a nonprofit, we face the challenge of relying on external support to fulfill our mission. By becoming a recurring donor, you make it possible to plan, budget, and make decisions based on our available resources, ensuring that we can continue serving our beneficiaries without interruption.

Learn more about how you can strengthen your impact and help us uphold our commitment to our community by becoming a member of the [PROGRAM NAME] family today. [LINK]

Template #4: Invite donors to join your exclusive inner circle 

Your recurring donors are a special cohort that deserve to be treated that way. To increase your chances for conversion, highlight the exclusivity of your program and emphasize the tight-knit community you’re inviting them to be a part of.

How to Leverage This Template at Your Nonprofit

Vet a list of your most passionate supporters, then identify a team member who has had the most interaction with this cohort to be the sender. Consider marrying your appeal with the celebration of a special day for your organization (like your founding day), or try to match it with a timely fundraising goal you’re marching toward.

Hi [NAME],

Over the years, your impact has been felt across all layers of our organization. You’ve made it possible to [TANGIBLE IMPACT EXAMPLE(S)], and so much more.

Your commitment to our mission is unmatched, so I’m reaching out today with an exclusive invitation to join our recurring giving program, [PROGRAM NAME]. This loyal inner circle is reserved solely for donors like you who have gone above and beyond to change so many lives.

As a recurring donor, you will receive [PERKS] and gain access to [ADDITIONAL INCENTIVES]. In addition, we want to hear your ideas and suggestions for the continued growth of our organization. Your perspective is precious to us, so we hope you will accept our invitation to [FOLLOW-UP ACTION (e.g., join our monthly board meeting)].

We will never be able to express what your generosity means to our community, but we hope you know that your support is truly life-changing.

Learn more about strengthening your impact by becoming a member of the [PROGRAM NAME] family today. [LINK]

Template #5: Highlight material items donors could give up in exchange for a recurring gift 

Get creative with how you frame your recurring donation appeal. Rather than sticking with a standard call to action, offer an exchange program that encourages people to donate the money they would’ve spent on a material item toward a recurring donation instead.

How to Leverage This Template at Your Nonprofit

An example of this approach could be encouraging donors to skip one Friday night happy hour each month and instead donate that amount as a monthly recurring donation. Although seemingly small, just $20 a month can add up quickly to impact someone in need.

Hi [NAME],

A little bit can go a long way for [BENEFICIARIES] who [PROBLEM THEY’RE FACING].

This [YEAR/MONTH/SEASON], our goal is to [SPECIFIC GOAL]. With your help, we are confident that we’ll be able to accomplish just that, if not more, by making a small sacrifice on behalf of our beneficiaries.

This month, you could skip one Friday night happy hour, a trip to the nail salon, or new pair of sneakers and instead donate that money as a recurring donation to help [TANGIBLE IMPACT]. Get creative with what you choose to exchange, and remember no amount is too small.

Get started today by joining the [PROGRAM NAME] family and strengthening your impact on the long-term success of our mission. [LINK]

Confidently Send Donation Appeals to Drive More Recurring Support 

Building a healthy recurring giving program takes time, but starting with a strong donor acquisition strategy is the first step. Create an exciting opportunity that your community wants to be a part of, and remind donors just how much of an impact their contributions make on the lives of those you serve.

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8 Email Templates to Upgrade Your Recurring Donors

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