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How to encourage monthly/ recurring donations for your non-profit

By Alexandra Gavril - January 14, 2019

Imagine if your non-profit organisation no longer had to worry about the seasonal drops in donations. Imagine if you could count on a reliable source of income even during down times.

Here’s the thing: while one-time donations are valuable and should still be pursued, they tend to be inconsistent throughout the year. But if you develop a monthly or recurring giving programme, that can provide you with a stable and predictable source of income for your non-profit.

With a recurring giving programme, you can encourage donors to give a pre-determined amount of money on a regular basis. While monthly giving is probably the most frequent form of recurring giving, you can also give your donors the option to donate bi-monthly or yearly.

Excited to learn how to increase monthly giving for your charity? Here are a few simple tactics to help you get started.

Shift your strategy to prioritise monthly gifts

If you want to encourage more supporters to make monthly donations, you first have to ask them. How? Start by creating a separate page on your site that’s dedicated to your monthly giving programme.

Here’s an example from charity:water:

Looking at this page, there are a few key elements that your page can’t be without:

  • An inspirational image and/ or video where you talk about your non-profit’s mission, history and success.
  • The impact of their monthly gift. Use numbers to help donors get a better understanding of how much and how many their donations can help. For example, charity:water points out that “a $60 monthly donation can give 24 people clean water every year.
  • A visible, clear and powerful call-to-action where you can also outline recommended gift amounts.
  • Testimonials from both your donors and your beneficiaries. For a boost of credibility, add names and photos, like in this example:

  • Positive mentions from credible media sources and publications, if you have them.

Another good tactic is to highlight your monthly giving programme on your site’s homepage as the most popular option, like in this example from The Adventure Project:

This will make the programme accessible to any potential donor who might be interested in giving monthly.

Describe exactly what monthly donations can accomplish

People want to know that their donation is going to make a difference. One of the most effective ways to go about this is to tie every donation amount to a result.

When you’re specific about what their contributions can accomplish, you’re enabling donors to visualise the people their donations are helping. And, as you probably know, people are more motivated to give when they feel an emotional connection with the people their donation benefits.

Here are two examples of how you can do that with a powerful subheading and image:

Another common practice is to use charts or infographics to tie a specific amount to a result:

Tie a special status or membership to monthly giving

Near the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid sits self-esteem. People want to feel important, like they’re part of an exclusive group. Use this to motivate your donors to give monthly.

How? By tying monthly contributions to a special status or exclusive membership within your community.

The first thing you need to do is to come up with a great name. For example, the Adventure Project calls their monthly donor group “The Collective”.

As you can see, the charity presents the monthly donation as a way to gain access to this special community of 217 people.

And that’s another great tactic that you can use to convince donors that making a monthly donation is something worth doing – telling people how big your community it.

It’s social proof and it’s one of the most effective marketing tactics to attract people to your brand. By showing that you have a community of hundreds of people who have already chosen to join your monthly giving programme, you can validate its credibility and motivate others to join as well.

Here’s another example from charity:water of how you can leverage social proof:

Create custom content for monthly donors

Once your non-profit receives a recurring donation, you need to nurture that relationship to ensure donor satisfaction and to create loyal supporters of your organisation and causes.

Start by thanking your recurring donors. Whether you choose to give them a call or to send them a personalised email or note, it’s important that they know you are grateful for their recurring donation.

From there, try to keep in touch with them via social media and email. For example, you can send monthly donors exclusive content designed to celebrate their continued support and to maintain their interest in your non-profit’s work.

You should also keep your monthly donors updated on the progress your organisation is making and how their contributions have helped the cause. Use images, stories, statistics and other concrete results and visuals. Make sure to emphasise that you couldn’t have done it without their recurring donations.

Use email marketing to turn one-time donors into recurring donors

Email marketing is a powerful tool to inform, educate and delight your donors. It not only helps you to keep in touch with your supporters but you can also use it to turn one-time donors into recurring donors.

First off, make sure to segment your email list. Place your existing recurring donors on a separate list so you can send them exclusive content that’s relevant to this specific group.

At the same time, identify one-time donors who give frequently (more than three times a year) and recently (in the past 1-3 months). Then create content that’s relevant to them and that can entice them to become monthly donors.

Promote your monthly giving programme everywhere

If you have a monthly giving programme, you can’t expect people to know about it if you don’t tell them and don’t motivate them to join in.

So don’t be afraid to spread the word about your programme – on your blog, in an Instagram post or story, in a Facebook Live session, in a tweet, in your emails to subscribers and one-time donors, and anywhere else where your audience is spending time online.

Wrapping up

Recurring donations are a fantastic way to maintain a steady stream of income throughout the year. So it’s well worth your time and effort to create a monthly giving programme and use the different tactics outlined in this article to motivate people to give monthly.