By Lindsey Himphill, Digital Marketing Strategist at MobileCause  – a nonprofit technology company that pioneered text-to-donate and also offers an extensive suite of online, mobile, and event fundraising solutions.

Recurring donations are the most sustainable source of income for most nonprofit organizations. In fact, monthly donors donate 440% more to charity over their lifetime than one-time donors. However, without the right tools, many nonprofits will struggle to upgrade their one-time online donors into recurring donors.

To address this, our team studied the campaigns of our top recurring giving customers within the MobileCause platform to identify some best practices and strategies. Take a look at some of the examples and strategies below for ideas for your own recurring giving campaigns.

1) Set Recurring Donors as the Default Type on All Donation Forms

The easiest way to encourage more recurring giving from online donations is to set your online donation forms default donation type to recurring. Doing so will make donors aware that they can support your organization weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc.

When making recurring donations the default donation type, lower the suggested donation amounts. New donors need to develop a deeper connection with your organization before donating larger amounts. It’s better to get $120 over the year than $40 once.

2) Create a Recurring Giving Pop-up

Contrary to popular belief, pop-ups do work! Nonprofits that use a pop-up asking a one-time donor to upgrade to a monthly donor achieve on average a 64% increase in monthly donations, yet only 14% of nonprofits use them!

Create a smart pop-up that targets one-time donors with a request to update to recurring giving. Within the pop-up explain the benefit of the recurring donation, such as how many meals, shoes, books, etc. it will purchase for your beneficiaries each month. With MobileCause, you can set the pop-up to only appear if a donation is below a certain amount (that you choose), so you can continue to bring in those large donations. You can also set the recommended monthly donation amount based upon the donor’s original one-time donation (a percentage of it). 

3) Create a Membership Program

Memberships are an easy way to incentivize giving and involvement with your nonprofit organization. Monthly or annual membership programs encourage recurring giving by offering exclusive status, promotional swag, insights, or other incentives. You can encourage higher recurring giving amounts by establishing levels to the membership program with different perks to each level.

4) Segment Your Recurring Donors

Be sure to recognize and celebrate your recurring donors in all communications. Create a segment of your recurring givers so you can send them specific and unique communications, appreciations, and updates. Doing so will prevent cancellations and encourage referrals from donors’ friends and family.

Also, regularly thank and update your recurring donors on what their donations have enabled your organization to achieve. MobileCause’s segmentation capabilities allows users to easily send recurring donors personalized text messages and emails with the software.

5) Automate Credit Card Expiration Reminders

Experts estimate that two-thirds of recurring donations are canceled automatically (not manually) or when a credit card is canceled or expires. With MobileCause, donors receive expired credit card notifications via SMS (text) and/or email – on the date the credit card expires and 30 days prior – that link to a webpage where donors can update their new payment information. This feature enables you to reconnect with and maintain these important donors.

Hopefully, these strategies and examples left you inspired to improve or create your recurring giving campaign. For more best practices and examples from real-world nonprofits, watch our on-demand webinar, Create Recurring Giving from Year-End Giving Campaigns.

Launched in 2008, MobileCause pioneered the use of text-to-donate in the nonprofit sector. In the years since they have expanded to offer online, mobile, and event fundraising solutions, peer-to-peer campaigns, mobile messaging, robust reporting & analytics, and CRM integration.