5 Factors to successfully incorporate recurring giving into your fundraising program

Have you heard the news? People like easy.

One-click purchases online with arrivals the next day.

Food delivery services.


I could go on.

Companies of all shapes and sizes are tapping into this basic human behavior and nonprofits are learning this too.

One way is through the growing prevalence (and shall I even say, dominance?) of recurring giving programs. According to the latest M+R Benchmarks for 2023, revenue from monthly giving increased by 11% and it accounted for 28% of all online revenue!

So, let’s break down what this is and five factors for you to consider in order to successfully incorporate this fundraising strategy into your fundraising program.

Recurring giving is when automatic payments are made on a repeating basis, usually at a set amount. It could be each week, each month, each quarter, each year, or some other personalized frequency. It could last for one full year or some other length. You may often hear this phrase interchangeably with monthly giving. Monthly giving is simply giving each month, the same amount in an automatic way.

Now, let’s discuss 5 factors to set up your nonprofit organization for success in incorporating this important strategy for fundraising sustainability.

  1. User-Friendly Online Platform

    Remember how I shared that people like easy? Same goes for when people donate. It is imperative that when a donor goes to your online donation page, you ensure that the online platform for recurring giving is user-friendly, intuitive, and secure. If possible, consider making it an option for donors to not only set up their recurring donations, but to also manage and change the payment frequencies (monthly, quarterly, annually, etc.) as needed. Make sure to also have a phone number easily accessible for donors to contact someone if they need help. 

  1. Share WHY this matters to your nonprofit and is good for your donor

    At the end of the day, fundraising is about building relationships with people who care about your mission and the work you are doing to make an impact on your cause. So, a clear and compelling message about your organization needs to be made prior to a donor choosing to give in a recurring frequency. You can also explain how the ongoing revenue will help to enhance the organization's programs and services in a sustainable way.  

  1. Personalize and Acknowledge Your Recurring Donors

    Donors want to know that their gift is valued and appreciated. AND they want to also feel special. (Doesn’t everyone?) So, as you think about your recurring giving program, make sure you tailor your communication and engagement strategies to nurture and deepen relationships with these donors. Send personalized acknowledgements that reference their ongoing giving all year, specify their role as a recurring giver in email updates, and highlight their giving in annual impact reports to show appreciation and demonstrate the positive outcomes made possible by their contributions. 

  1. Steward Your Donor

    Any successful fundraising strategy needs to prioritize retaining your current donors. It is much cheaper, faster, and easier to renew a current donor than to acquire a new one, so nonprofits need to ensure the stewardship of current donors is done, and done well. And the same goes for your recurring donors. Consider the uniqueness of these donors – they are giving multiple times a year on a consistent basis. So, develop a comprehensive stewardship plan that includes regular touchpoints, exclusive updates, and opportunities for involvement or participation. Consider offering incentives or benefits for recurring donors, such as exclusive content, events, or recognition.

  1. Ongoing Optimization and Evaluation

    I cannot emphasize this enough, test test test your online forms and automatic messages that are sent. Continuously monitor and evaluate the performance of your recurring giving program and that what you think works, actually is working. For instance, when a credit card declines – are you notified? What is the business process to reach out? Or when a donor sets up a recurring gift online, how it is coded in your CRM? Another item to optimize – does your nonprofit send one acknowledgment letter when the recurring gift is set up, or when each payment is processed, or even again at the end of the year to summarize the annual giving? Continue to develop business processes for these scenarios as well as track key metrics, such as donor retention rate, average gift size, and overall revenue generated.

By considering these five factors, you can increase the effectiveness and sustainability of your recurring giving programs for nonprofit fundraising to ensure you raise more money, ease the burden on your donors, and develop stronger relationships with your donors.

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