We recently hosted a webinar on launching a recurring donations campaign for your nonprofit. The session highlighted the reasons recurring donations are so important to the long-term success of nonprofits, as well as some actionable takeaways for launching your own successful recurring donations campaign.
This post will give you some of the highlights from the webinar that will help get you started building your own community of recurring donors. You can also find the full webinar and presentation slides below.
Why Are Recurring Donations So Important?
Recurring donations provide a consistent and reliable source of support for an organization’s programs. Revenue from one-time donations, on the other hand, tends to spike and dip throughout the year. This inconsistent level of revenue can make it difficult for organizations to plan and invest in their programs. Increasing recurring donations will help give your organization a larger base of predictable support. And, if you keep nurturing your recurring giving program, this base will only grow.
Another compelling reason to focus on increasing your organization’s number of recurring donors, is that it is cost-effective. The cost of acquiring a new donor is generally orders of magnitude higher than the cost of retaining an existing donor.
But money isn’t the only resource recurring donations can save. Because new donor attrition rates can be as high as 60-90 percent, soliciting individual donations one-by-one can be an exhausting and time consuming task for your team. The retention rate of recurring donations, however, is around 70 percent. By maximizing recurring donations, you can prevent recruitment burnout among your staff as well as donor burnout from repeated calls to action.
The 4 Phases of a Successful Recurring Donor Campaign
Creating a plan for your campaign will help you manage the workload and build momentum as the campaign gets underway. Just like your organization as a whole, your campaign should have a brand and a mission.
A key part of the planning process will be segmenting your donors. By creating donor personas, you can send emails and calls to action that are tailored to each segment of your audience.
Once you have identified your donor personas, it is time to define “the ask” you will present to each group. Here are a few tips for formulating an effective ask:
- Be Specific – Are you asking this person to fundraise? To donate? How much?
- Be Concise – State your ask in clear, simple language that the donor can understand
- Be Real – To show donors the real world effect of their gift, tie that dollar value to what it can provide.
The next crucial aspect of the planning phrase is creating a schedule of the run up to, and the implementation of, your campaign. You should set off time to form a marketing strategy, train your staff and advocates for campaign success, strategize on building excitement on social media outlets, and plan your various email sends. It can be helpful to review your organization’s metrics to determine what days and times result in the highest click-through rate and schedule your campaign emails for these times.
When you start communicating your campaign’s mission, start with the “Big Goal” you are hoping to achieve. From there, you can break the campaign down into smaller goals, with each one having a corresponding target date. Keeping supporters updated on your progress toward both incremental and overall goals will motivate them to donate throughout the campaign.
First, reach out to your advocates and activists who you know will donate to, promote and publicize the campaign. A great way to amplify your impact is to recruit “challengers” who are willing to match gifts. Identifying and recruiting challengers will be useful in getting other donors on board – people love knowing their dollar is going even further to reach the overall goal.
Now that you’ve got the ball rolling, contact past supporters to ask if they will help again. The last audience you should reach out to is new donors. They will be more likely to donate if you are already well on your way to achieving your goal.
Remember those personas you created? They will be a vital tool in engaging potential recurring donors. By scheduling a series of emails that speaks to each persona, you can tailor your calls to action based on what you already know about the recipient.
Whether through an official email or through promotion from an advocate, use a script of talking points while maintaining a warm, natural tone.
- Start with a personal-sounding greeting
- Briefly explain the campaign’s key components
- Give a sincere sign off
- Provide a contact point for both the specific campaign and the organization
- Address or link to Frequently Asked Questions
- Link to sign up page to become a recurring donor
4. Finish Strong and Follow Up
When the campaign is over, don’t forget to share the results with your supporters. Celebrate your victories and thank the people who have helped along the way.
When planning for future campaigns, keep in mind that when someone says “no,” they often mean “not now.” Just because an individual didn’t commit to a recurring donation this time doesn’t mean they won’t next time. Maybe they were segmented into the wrong persona or it simply wasn’t a good time for them. By studying the effectiveness of your personas, you may be able to turn that “no” into a “yes” later on.
Finally, by acquiring new recurring donors, you may have created an entirely new persona. Use these monthly donors to form a community of investors who want to help your nonprofit succeed. Team Rubicon recognizes these recurring donors as their Support Squad.
Managing Your Recurring Donor Program
Once you start recruiting recurring donors, you have to continue to managing and engaging them to reap the full benefits of monthly giving. Monthly donors have invested in your nonprofit and you should keep them updated on the programs they support. Show them how their investment has been essential to the success of your programs by sending quarterly reports, videos, direct mail, and donor surveys.
A base of recurring donations is worth more than its monthly revenue. Predictable income provides a level of stability that one-time donations do not. Recurring donations allow you to plan programs in advance and reduce the amount of resources devoted to chasing down new donors.
By creating well-planned campaigns, staying ahead of churn, and upgrading existing monthly donations, you can increase your predictable revenue with time. And the sooner you start planning your recurring donations campaign, the sooner you will see the compound growth that follows.
Because the holidays are such a huge season for charitable gifts, this may be the perfect opportunity to start your new strategies for boosting recurring donations!