The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Your Recurring Gift Cheat Sheet: 3 Tips for Boosting Donor Buy-In

Your monthly giving program is great way to reach smaller donors who aren’t comfortable writing a big check but are happy to give $10 or $20 per month. Are you maximizing its potential or just hoping people will notice the “give monthly” checkbox on their own? Here are three best practices for making the most of your monthly giving program and supercharging your revenue in the process.

Ask low.

When it comes to recurring gifts, always think annually, not monthly. Don’t be too greedy up front. Your focus is to get the donor through the door with a low, palatable amount.

Here’s how to set your initial ask: Figure out your average onetime gift and start your ask at about a third of that. Let’s say your onetime average is $35. Set your first monthly gift level at $10 (an ideal starting point), then bump up the ask to $15, $20, $35, and “other.” Notably, research has found that when given a list of options, people frequently choose the second one.

Get a high response.

Once you’ve set an easy entry point, you want to make sure donors know about this great monthly option. Put it front and center in everything you do. Start with your website’s homepage, and mention monthly giving right up top so people can find it. Make it the first option on your online donation page and printed materials. Tout it on Facebook and Twitter. You’re proud of this program, so show it. If you ask, they will give.

A couple more tips for boosting recurring gift response:

  • Give plenty of payment options. Credit cards, PayPal, and electronic fund transfers from checking accounts are the most common.
  • Name your program. Donors want to feel special. They’re more likely to sign on if giving monthly makes them a “Children’s Champion” or a member of the “Founder’s Circle.”

Upgrade later.

Once your donors have committed to recurring gifts, how soon should you ask them to up the amount? Between nine and 12 months is ideal. First you’ll want to make sure payments are coming in regularly and that your communications plan is in place (thank you emails, tax letters, contact plan for things like expired or canceled credit cards, etc.). Then make the ask.

What about onetime or annual donors—when can you ask them for monthly gifts? As soon as they become a donor! The sooner you can convert them to monthly, the more loyal and generous they will be. Anyone who gave recently is more likely to convert than someone who’s been giving annually for years. A great starting point is to ask holiday donors in January, “Help us 12 months a year.”

Adapted from Network for Good’s Nonprofit 911 webinar “How You Can Generate Long-Term Revenue from Recurring Giving” with Erica Waasdorp, president of A Direct Solution and author of Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant. Download the archived presentation.

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About This Blog

Linda Lombardi

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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