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Allison Gauss
5 min
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Recurring Donor Communications: The 4 Steps

You may already know about some of the benefits that come along with a robust pool of monthly donors.

  • Monthly donations represent stable income
  • Recurring donors are more entrenched in your organization’s mission
  • Monthly donors have a high lifetime donor value
  • A solid pool of recurring donors that reduce your fundraising costs

But once you are able to convert a supporter to a monthly donor, you face a new problem: how to talk to them.

Your relationship with this donor has changed and you need to adjust the way you communicate with them. In this post, we’ll discuss how to engage and recognize recurring donors and how to ask for an upgrade in their gift.

1. Start The Relationship with a Personal “Thank You”

You should thank all of your donors for their contributions to your cause, but since a recurring donor has gone the extra mile by committing to a monthly gift, you should go the extra mile to thank them.

One way to show donors how much you appreciate their sustained support is to simply call and thank them. Not only does this add a personal touch, but this unexpected call may leave donors moved. Team Rubicon has used this practice with excellent results.

Many organizations, like Women Against Abuse, send monthly donors a Welcome Kit. While nonprofits should use caution when it comes to giving gifts to donors, a welcome package can be an exciting way to remind recurring donors they have joined a special group.

2. Make Monthly Donors Part of Your Inner Circle

Engage and acknowledge recurring donors by making them a special subset of your community. Operation Smile refers to their monthly donors as Smile Partners and Doctors Without Borders call them Field Partners. Wouldn’t you feel good if Habitat For Humanity called you a “HopeBuilder?”

Some organizations, like UNICEF USA, assigns monthly donors a specific staff member to answer their questions. Part of recognizing these donors is showing that you value their input, and a survey specifically for monthly donors can gain insight into the types of people who choose to give regularly. This can help you gain more and more monthly donors.

3. Give Them More, Not Less

After someone commits to a monthly donation, your instinct might be to leave them alone. You don’t want to seem greedy or ungrateful, so you take them off your mailing lists.

This is a mistake.

The key to communicating with recurring donors is segmenting. As the previous step indicates, your monthly donors are a part of a special group and should be treated as such. No, it doesn’t make sense to keep sending asks to become a monthly donor, but that’s no reason to exclude them from appeals for your big, annual campaigns. Continue to communicate with monthly donors and let them know what else your organization has to offer.

Your e-mails are another way to speak to monthly donors’ importance. You probably already have a newsletter for your community, but creating a quarterly report specifically for recurring donors shows that you see them as a an investor or partner. Through individual stories, measurable results, or even a simple picture, you can give monthly donors an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at your work. You don’t have to give them a key to your office to make them feel like an insider.

4. Be Smart About Upgrades

Most of your messages to monthly donors should either inform them of progress you’ve made or thank them for their continued support, but don’t be afraid to ask them to increase their gift. As long as you are respectful and realistic, asking a donor to give more can help you expand the work you’re doing.

For small donations, like $10-20 per month, asking for just $5 more can make a big difference. A $5 increase adds up to an extra $60 every year. The amount of the increase should be proportional to the size of the existing donation. You can even organize a gift upgrade campaign that specifically targets your recurring donors.

Although gaining new monthly donors is definitely something to celebrate, this should be only the beginning of your partnership with these donors. As in any relationship, you must effectively communicate both your appreciation and your needs to donors in order to keep them engaged.


Image Credit: reynermedia

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