When a donor signs up for a recurring donation online, there are no checks to mail and no monthly reminders needed; much of the expense and hassle on the nonprofit’s side have been eliminated. In light of these advances, it’s time for your nonprofit to consider developing its own online recurring giving program. Discover the benefits of recurring donations.

1) Increased Revenue

Recurring donors are over five times more valuable to your nonprofit than one-time donors, according to The State of Modern Philanthropy. Even though monthly donors generally give smaller amounts on a per gift basis, the aggregate amount that they give over the course of a year almost always adds up to more.

For instance, the average one-time gift amount is $127; the average monthly recurring donation of $31 would provide equal return over three years as a one-time donation of $1,116. When you combine this higher annual giving level with the fact that monthly donors have much higher retention rates, you can begin to see why monthly donations are important.

Discover more statistics on recurring donors and their preferences in the State of Modern Philanthropy 2022.

2) Easy and Effective For Nonprofits and Donors

A recurring donation allows supporters to spread the financial impact of their giving across the entire year, lessening the acute financial effect. Supporters end up contributing more on an annual basis, but the distribution of payments across the year makes the commitment more manageable. This makes recurring giving an especially effective way to increase gift amounts from committed supporters who might not have the financial resources to move up and become “major donors” with larger one-time gifts.

Also, from the nonprofit’s perspective,  recurring donations provide a relatively nonthreatening way of asking donors for larger financial commitments. Instead of asking for an increasing lump sum each year, your organization can ask for a smaller monthly donation that adds up to a larger annual total. The lower figure tends to come across as less aggressive to donors, making them more likely to consider your request.

3) Improved Cash Flow

Recurring donations are extremely beneficial from an operational perspective. It’s common for nonprofits to receive a majority of their income during a couple months throughout the year. Part of this is due to the seasonal nature of giving, and part of this is due to the fact that fundraising tends to be cyclical.

This introduces operational challenges (particularly for smaller organizations). Revenue may be confined to certain months throughout the year, but operating costs are generally spread out evenly. As a result, organizations can wind up having insufficient cash on hand to function optimally during the down months. Building a predictable revenue stream helps to reduce this imbalance and provide much needed support during your organization’s fallow periods.

4) Better Long-Term Planning

As a corollary to the cash-flow point, a mature recurring donation program can also help an organization improve its long-range planning and decision-making. Revenue from recurring donations is far more predictable than revenue from one-off gifts. Once some data has been accumulated, an organization can easily calculate the average span in months its recurring gifts last and the average number of new recurring donors it acquires each month.

5) Cost-Effective

There’s no need for repeat solicitation with recurring gifts. Once you’ve converted a donor into your monthly recurring donation program, the gifts continue indefinitely until the donor decides to stop. Of course, you’ll need a retention strategy to encourage continued engagement, but the costs of maintaining recurring donors are generally lower than annual givers.

Simple ways to improve your donor retention without spending more include personalizing your outreach messaging, experimenting with custom questions in your donation form to better understand your donor base, and sending customized follow-up emails in response to each donation.

6) Strengthened Donor Loyalty and Engagement

Of all one-time donors who return to start a recurring giving subscription, 25% go on to make an additional one-time gift on top of their recurring gift. Of those recurring donors, 51% return to also give through a different campaign type, according to The State of Modern Philanthropy 2020. It’s clear that recurring donors are willing to take additional actions for your nonprofit on top of their monthly donation.

This is also reflected in their participation in registration with fundraising campaigns, as well as peer-to-peer. Of recurring donors who return to take additional action, 14% sign up to fundraise or donate to a registration with fundraising campaign, and 10% participate in a peer-to-peer campaign. Don’t be afraid to engage your monthly donors with other one-time asks throughout the year.

Download Classy’s 8 Email Templates to Upgrade Your Recurring Donors for tips and examples of how you can make these asks of this committed cohort.

Develop and Promote Your Own Recurring Giving Program

To start building your recurring giving program, identify your goals, analyze your audience, and plan a campaign to promote monthly giving. These goals could include your target monthly recurring revenue amount or number of monthly donors, for example.

Building a recurring giving program requires a lot of work, but it starts with these small, actionable steps and the right technology. Create an exciting opportunity that your community wants to be a part of and the return on investment from each monthly recurring donation will set you on a path to sustainability.

To help your nonprofit grow your recurring giving program, download these eight email templates that encourage recurring donors to take action.

About the Sponsor

Classy.org is a social enterprise that creates world-class online fundraising software for nonprofits, modernizing the giving experience to accelerate social impact around the world.