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raise more in your first
year or your money back.

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Subscription Giving: A New Era of Fundraising is Here

Over the last decade, consumer buying habits have shifted towards more subscription-based purchasing. From Netflix to Blue Apron and many other companies, consumers are becoming more comfortable signing on for a regular, automatic payment. They are actively subscribing because they expect to receive something in return. The good news? The same can be achieved at nonprofit organizations. “When donors sign up for subscription giving, they’re subscribing to a feed of content, and that needs to make them feel good about getting their credit card charged every month, said Network for Good CEO, Bill Strathmann, in an interview with Successful Fundraising. “In an ideal world, it also educates them about the difference they’re making and ultimately makes them want to share it with others.”

Tailor Your Recurring Donation Asks  

How many subscription or recurring donors does your nonprofit have? Whether you’re looking for your very first subscription gift or you are looking to expand upon the donors you already have, there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re promoting this opportunity in your communications.

  1. Come up with a name– Large nonprofit organizations often include an ask for monthly gifts in their appeals and brand this request by inviting the reader to join an official group, such as charity: water’s The Spring monthly giving club. Naming your own group will give it the cache it deserves and make your new subscription donors feel like they’re joining something official and exciting.
  2. Optimize your donation page– Consider updating your online donation page and setting your default donation frequency to monthly. If you’re ready to go the extra mile, create two pages – one for general donations and one for subscription giving – and have a button for each on your homepage.
  3. Plan targeted appeals – Think about who from your contact list would be best to invite to make a subscription gift. Brainstorm ideas to talk about subscription gifts differently than one-time donations. Consider the donation amounts that you want to highlight and whether you have any tangible examples of what a gift of that amount would make possible.
  4. Incorporate subscription giving into your next campaign – You never know when someone is going to be receptive to making a subscription gift, so it’s important to include information in your next campaign. Let your donors know how easy it is to sign up online via your donation page and that they will have the chance to update their donation online anytime. Share information about any special recognition you are planning for these donors and the additional updates they would receive.

How to Steward Your Subscription Donors Differently

Think of them like your insiders – your VIPs – who are doing their part behind the scenes to make your mission possible. In order to keep the relationship going, you should fulfill your side of the subscription and send out a steady stream of communications designed to keep them up to date about your programs and the impact that they are making for your beneficiaries. Check out our suggestions below:

  • Welcome Kit– Want to say thank you with direct mail? Design a welcome kit to officially welcome your new subscription donor to the organization. Share information about your mission and let them know about the good work their dollars will do.
  • Welcome Emails– Prefer to say thank you with email? Set up a special template just for new subscription donors. Consider rotating the author and sending one from the Executive Director, one from a board member, and one from a programmatic staffer. Let your new subscription donor know how often they will hear from you moving forward and what they can look forward to. You could also include questions and links to surveys to allow them the opportunity to communicate as well.
  • Engagement Tools – Forward plan how often you will communicate with your subscription donors. If you have a monthly e-newsletter, consider creating a second version exclusively for subscription donors. If not, create a schedule with regular updates to make sure you stay in touch.
  • Future Appeals– Since they are already giving on a regular basis, you may be wondering whether it’s OK to ask them to make an additional gift. We recommend including them in your next appeal but being mindful of how you do so. Segment your contacts and tailor your messaging for this group. Make sure you recognize their ongoing support and make them feel seen and recognized as a subscription donor before you make the ask.

To get started with this new model of recurring giving, click here to read Network for Good’s Guide to Subscription GivingSM.

Updated: October 27, 2021

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