Donor gifts are the lifeblood of every nonprofit organization. Nonprofit professionals, especially those working in small to medium-sized organizations, are acutely aware of how quickly small donations can add up. The giving public, however, has not always been able to see the value in giving a little.
Luckily, this appears to be changing. The rise of crowdfunding campaigns and artist support programs such as Patreon have made it crystal clear that many small donations can have a huge impact. As a result, it should come as no surprise that monthly recurring giving programs have been on the rise within the nonprofit sector in recent years.
According to the 2018 M+R Benchmark Study, monthly giving to nonprofit organizations has increased by 40% in the past year. If your organization does not already have a monthly giving program in place, you’re missing out not only on potential donations but also increased donor engagement.
Establishing or improving your own monthly giving program should be at the top of the priority list for every small to medium-sized nonprofit organization in 2019. To help you achieve this, we’ve compiled a short list of top tips for running a successful recurring donation program.
Brand your monthly giving program
Show your monthly donors that they are part of something unique and special within your organization by branding your monthly giving program. The name of your program should align with your core mission and values so it is easily recognizable and directly related to your organizational branding.
For example, the Boston Children’s Hospital Trust uses the tagline “dare dream deliver” for all of its fundraising initiatives. They refer to their monthly donors as “Dream Makers,” which both hearkens back to their main slogan and establishes a special role for the donors within the monthly program.
Offer a range of giving levels
Since a monthly giving program is an ongoing relationship, it is vital that your organization meets your potential donors where they are in terms of donation amount. Offering multiple levels of giving options lets more hesitant donors join with minimal risk. It also allows you to reward more generous donors incrementally.
When determining the giving levels you want to offer, start by reviewing your previous annual fundraising campaigns. You should be able to easily determine the most common annual giving amount you receive from your donors. Divide that amount by twelve, then consider starting your monthly donations slightly below the resulting amount. Consistent engagement from your organization, as well as feedback on the impact of their small donation, may encourage recurring donors to increase their monthly gift in the future.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that donor engagement is not measured in monetary value alone. Members of your monthly giving program are also more likely to share your campaigns on social media or participate in volunteer opportunities.
Show the impact of monthly gifts
When you offer multiple giving levels, you have the opportunity to outline the impact of every dollar for your donors. This also provides you with an outline for determining your monthly giving levels. Be as specific as possible for each level.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s monthly giving program, The Conservation Crew, is a great example. Their sign-up page includes a clear infographic that spells out the difference between what can be achieved with a $50 versus a $10 monthly gift. The more detail you are able to provide about how your organization uses donations, the more confidence potential donors will have in giving.
In addition to outlining how you intend to use donations, take the time to follow up and show what you actually accomplished. Sharing pictures of completed projects and individuals your organization has helped allows donors to feel connected to your organization’s work. Meanwhile, testimonials from volunteers can encourage monetary donors to volunteer in the future.
Offer incentives by giving level
Incentivizing varying giving levels is not a new idea. Offering t-shirts, tote bags, or other branded merchandise exclusively for donors is a tried-and-true fundraising technique. With monthly giving, however, physical incentives are not sustainable and honestly, not that appealing to donors.
Instead, consider offering a one-time welcome kit with these types of items as well as regular non-physical incentives. For instance, you could share exclusive updates or regular behind-the-scenes insights into your organization’s work. If your organization has a celebrity ambassador, you could even see if they would be willing to create short video diaries for higher-tier donors.
Make it easy for donors to give
In 2017, 40% of all nonprofit website visitors accessed the website using a mobile device. In this day and age, it’s essential for your website and online giving platform to be optimized for use across any device.
You’ll also want to remove potential roadblocks by ensuring the sign-up process for your monthly giving program is clear and simple. While it can be tempting to try to gather as much demographic information as possible, overly complicated forms can reduce follow-through. Instead, consider offering the opportunity for donors to provide you with more information after they commit. The fewer clicks from sign-up to confirmation, the better.
Make it easy for your nonprofit to follow up with donors
A monthly giving program requires plenty of ongoing communication with your donors. For your program to be successful, you need to be able to stay on top of recurring tasks without a significant increase in manual administrative work.
Imagine you have 200 donors who have committed to making a monthly donation. Some want to make payments through an online portal, others want to give their donations over the phone, and still others have written you a slew of post-dated cheques. How on earth will you remember when to follow up with whom?
Luckily, a nonprofit CRM like Method:Donor can help you streamline your donor management. Easily create recurring reminders to send emails, make phone calls, or deposit cheques on specific dates each month. Method also makes it simple to generate thank you letters with the click of a button, to ensure your loyal donors know how much you appreciate their support.
A successful monthly giving program has the power to transform your nonprofit organization. Developing effective branding, offering multiple giving levels, and providing exclusive incentives are all great strategies for securing recurring donations. And by using the right donor management software, you can rest assured that none of these donations will slip through the cracks.