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The Fundraiser’s Guide to Managing Monthly or Recurring Donors

Have you ever had something be a total letdown the second time around?

Imagine that you eat at an amazing restaurant.  The host is friendly.  The server is the perfect balance of personable and knowledgeable.  The food is beyond tasty.  Even the bathroom has cool sinks!

Fast forward a month.  You’ve waited as long as you can.  The day of your return to foodie heaven is upon you and you’re like a kid on Halloween.

Then the unthinkable happens, you hate it.

The host loses your reservation.  Your waiter has an “I might spit in your food vibe.”  Your steak is overcooked.  And, you slip on a wet floor in the bathroom.

Don’t put your monthly and recurring donors through this psychological torture.

Guarantee that the great stewardship that brought them back to donate a second time happens during each and every experience. 

What’s the best way to keep donors happy and returning?

Exemplary monthly and recurring donor program management. 

Monthly and recurring donor programs are great ways to improve yearly fundraising for nonprofits.

They provide consistency in a world of financial uncertainty.

To help your fundraising process, here’s an outlined 6 step guide to boosting monthly and recurring donor management proficiency.

STEP #1 PLAN, PLAN, PLAN

Plan as much as you can in advance and save yourself major effort down the road.

Truly think through how your program will work when establishing it.

Ask yourself:

  • Who will manage the process?
  • What communications will donors receive after sign-up?
  • What thank-yous will you send donors?
  • What will be the suggested pledge amounts?
  • How are you going to be communicating with participants?
  • What will the communications say?

If that list seems extensive, it is because it is.  And it is likely that even more questions will come up in the pilot stage of your program.

Address these planning questions early and thoroughly. 

The more you know about the ins and outs of your program, the better equipped you will be to run it.  You might need a monthly gift team, or you might be able to allocate duties to existing staff.

The only way to know is to plan.  Then plan some more.

STEP #2 AUTOMATE THE GIVING PROCESS

If you have the capability of automating any part of this process, do it!

The rewards of a monthly/recurring giving program are plenty, but running one is not without its difficulties — one of which is the time it’ll take your staff to execute.

This step is when having a well-chosen CRM comes in handy.

A great CRM software (like NonProfitEasy) has a pledge function within the donation process.  This can save staff time and increase donor engagement.

A CRM can also identify expired cards, flag denied cards, and process recurring payments.

It’s important to have a good CRM in your corner, and this step is just one example (of many) why.

STEP #3 CONNECT THE PROGRAM TO SOMETHING CONCRETE

People like certainty when giving their money.

Donors who know what their money is accomplishing feel more secure in their decisions to give.

Give a few examples of what certain pledge amounts equate to in terms of mission fulfillment.

For instance:

  • $5 monthly pledge = the training for a new volunteer
  • $10 monthly pledge = school supplies for a kindergartner

And so on and so on.

Solidifying the donation trail does more than comfort your donors, it can incentivize them.

If I’m a donor and I see that for just $5 I can help your organization train more volunteers, I’d sacrifice the funds I’d spend on one fancy coffee drink.

It is hard to say no to guaranteed results.

STEP #4 HIGHLIGHT MONTHLY GIVING

Do you know what frustrates me?  Whispering.  If you want me to know what you’re saying you have to make sure I can hear you.

Donors won’t know about monthly giving if you don’t noticeably tell them about it.  They won’t learn through osmosis.

Take advantage of your organization’s preexisting communications portals to let your people know about the programs in place.

Use social media platforms, newsletters, director’s letters to donors, etc.

Vary how you address your prospects and donors about the program.

In one correspondence explicitly outline the details of monthly giving.  In another choose a monthly donor to recognize and then briefly discuss how others could get involved.

By showcasing the benefits of monthly giving, you make it clear to the donor why you’re asking them for something other than a typical donation. By making your intentions clear, it helps both your organization and potential donors who are ready to give.

STEP #5 BRAND THE MONTHLY GIVING PROGRAM

Make monthly giving appealing by branding it as an exclusive club.

Name it what you want, but just make sure you treat the donors who participate like members.

The branding as an elite group can only go so far if you don’t back it up with some legitimate rewards.

Offer members-only rewards and giveaways from time to time. A little money spent will go a long way towards growing that recurring donor base.

STEP #6 PROVIDE STEP-UP OPPORTUNITIES

This step applies to the handling of one-time, intermittent, and monthly donors.

With care and attention to donor relationships, ask your donors to step-up their giving practices.

Effective donor segmentation will be a huge asset in this process.  The better you know these donors, the more successful your asks will be.

For one-time and intermittent donors this ask will be about getting them to transition onto your monthly giving platform.

Send specific communications geared towards one-time or intermittent donors that offer an upgrade to your recently branded monthly giving program.

For those already involved in the program, wait a relatively lengthy period of time, make sure the donor is committed to the giving program, and then ask him to up his monthly pledge.

These asks won’t be about getting huge increases but pledge bumps across many monthly donors.

Don’t forget that your loyal monthly donors are prime candidates for major gift donations.

Members of your monthly giving club have already demonstrated a vested interest in financially contributing to your cause.

There’s a good chance they’d be willing to make the jump to a large gift if the funds were available and the opportunity was presented.

This is all about giving people as many opportunities as possible to join the recurring donation crew.

Donor retention should be a goal of any nonprofit. 

With monthly and recurring donor programs in place, you’ll be on your way to successful donor retention.

Want to see how a  CRM can help run your monthly giving program.  Try a free NonProfitEasy demo today.

Schedule a demo with NonProfitEasy today!