Recurring Donations: Attracting Donors Who Keep Coming Back

Building a recurring donations program along with effective fundraising is a way for nonprofit organizations to stand strong through time and to focus on their overarching goals instead of spending most of their time trying to survive. This approach is how some legendary nonprofit organizations have become household names.

Getting a one-time donation is nice, but it doesn’t give nonprofit organizations the stability that they need in order to thrive and continue operating into the future.

Recurring donations are what build a strong nonprofit organization.

What’s a recurring donations program?

A recurring donations program focuses on turning sporadic, one-off donors into regular contributors. It is about creating a community with the patrons of your organization as well as turning donors into special members of your organization, generating recurring donations and solidifying the structure of your organization.

You can make a flexible recurring donation program and adapt it to everyone’s needs and preferences, such as with monthly, quarterly, or annually schedules. 

Why should a nonprofit launch a recurring donations program?

Recurring donations are what will give your organization the economic stability that it needs for you to focus on the all-important core objectives of your organization.

This doesn’t mean that donors can’t walk away, but recurring donations give your organization a steadier source of income and a solid economic structure compared to sporadic one-off donations that are generally made by unexcited supporters who quickly forget the cause that is being fought.

It turns supporters into motivated donors

If your nonprofit organization has supporters and people who believe in your cause and objectives, then a way of getting them more involved in your organization is to offer them a place in your recurring donor program.

These are the people who share the same beliefs as what your organization represents, meaning that you don’t have to necessarily give them a sales pitch. You just have to suggest becoming recurrent patrons.

By making them recurring donors, your supporters will most likely also become stronger supporters of your organization, enhancing their passion for the goals you wish to achieve. They’re also more likely to giving additional gifts and donations as well as offering to volunteer.

All of the above takes us to the next point:

It strengthens your organization’s bond with its supporters

When someone economically commits to something, it strengthens the mental and emotional bond they have to that commitment. In a sense, the organization’s struggles and align more with their own, making it more personal for the donor.

You can turn your supporters into members of your nonprofit organization not just by offering the opportunity for them to become recurrent donors, but also by making your donors feel special and part of a community with a shared goal. Make them feel special with personalized thank you cards and/or updates on how their donations are helping your nonprofit organization

It provides more stable revenue to your nonprofit organization

Large donations are fantastic, but they generally don’t come often. Large donations should be seen as nice, unexpected gifts, because you can’t base your nonprofit organization’s revenue on one-off donations that may not repeat themselves.

It’s easier for people to commit to small recurrent donations than to make a large, one-time donation.

If you ask your supporters to donate $120, they might think twice before handing over the cash. However, if you propose a monthly donation of $10, it feels like something easier to commit to. It’s the price of an expensive cup of coffee a month in exchange for achieving a common goal.

Not only will it be easier to make the donation, but supporters will most likely commit for longer than one year, giving your organization that steady cash flow and helping to solidify the economic structure of your nonprofit organization.

How does a nonprofit organization promote its recurring donations program?

Once you design a recurring donation program, the next step is to promote it! Marketing is pivotal in making your supporters commit to recurrent donations.

Create a community

You can offer a place for your supporters to form engaging relationships with other supporters. We don’t mean hosting expensive events where they can drink and eat, because a virtual forum within your nonprofit’s website will do to grow a community.

You can give recurrent donors a VIP badge to sport in the online forum or to give them access to additional VIP forums or services like insider knowledge of the organization, increasing the attractiveness of the recurrent donor program.

Your recurrent donors could even form a community where they can encourage other supporters to become patrons of your nonprofit organization, such as on social media platforms.

Make them feel special

If you want to keep your donors happy you need to make them feel special. Remember that they’re the economic force that supports your nonprofit and as such, you need to make them see how special they truly are.

  • You can give them a special name reserved for donors only like the ASPCA, referring to donors as Guardians.
  • Make exclusive newsletters and videos to show them where their money is going and keep them engaged with your nonprofit organization.
  • Give them upgrades within your organization. We don’t mean giving them unpaid jobs though, try to create a community within which you give your donors a special place and part.

Offer clear information to explain where their donations are going

When donating to a cause, it can sometimes be difficult to see where the money is going. The positive emotions that arise from donating can be overshadowed by a lack of information regarding the goals that the organization is trying to achieve.

This means that our money can appear to be wrapped up in administrative loopholes rather than being used properly.

Make it easy for recurring donors to see where their money is going.

  • Give updates on the goals your organization is aiming to reach and how much money it takes to reach them.
  • Give the donor an idea of what can be achieved with their donation.
  • Offer clear information to explain how each donor is important to your organization.
  • Explain the benefits that are accomplished with their donation. This enhances positive emotions and encourages supporters to keep donating.

Make it easy to donate

Make every step of the process easy and fast.

The reason why so many people leave items in their online shopping cart and don’t finalize their purchase is because somewhere along the way, they got fed up with the purchasing process.

  • Offer different amounts they can donate. Some people will have deeper pockets than others, but do not underestimate the power of small, recurrent donations. If 400 people donate $10 dollars a month, then that’s already $4,000 dollars a month.
  • Avoid making the donation process too long. Once someone has the intention of donating, you want to use that emotional high and make the process quick so be sure that your website has an easy, uncomplicated path for donating. Make sure to fix any glitches/errors on your site that delay the process or generate a negative experience.
  • Advertise on your website the recurrent donation program and create a web page solely for this purpose. You want to make the option accessible from every page on your web site.

What are some examples of successful recurring donations programs?

Nonprofit organizations survive thanks to recurrent donors although many have side businesses to increase their income like selling t-shirts or other items. Nevertheless, their main revenue comes, mostly, from donations.

Greenpeace, UNICEF, PETA, and many other nonprofit organizations have set a positive example for how recurrent donation programs can strengthen their revenue.

They have made the donation process easy and accessible from every page on their sites, as well as explaining to donors where their money goes.

They’ve set different amounts that donors can commit to on a monthly basis, from small amounts to large ones. The important thing is letting supporters know that everyone can pitch in to support the cause regardless of their socioeconomic circumstances.

From $5 dollars a month to hundreds of dollars a month, when it comes to fundraising, every dollar counts which is why it’s pivotal to encourage monthly donations that can create a solid economic bedrock for your nonprofit organization.

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