It seems like almost every cost in our lives can be offered as a subscription service, so why not charitable donations? Recurring donations allow your donors to give to your non-profit organization on a monthly basis, making it more convenient for them to give. For your non-profit, recurring donations represent predictable revenue and donors you can grow over time.
The Benefits of Recurring Donations for Your Non-Profit Organization
The main benefit of recurring donations is that they provide money that you can count on monthly, year after year. Before your fundraising events or asks, your non-profit raises money from your recurring donations. The Catholic Charities of Oklahoma raised approximately $400,000 after starting their recurring donations program. That was money they could count on when planning their programs at the start of each year. The donors would be charged monthly until they told the non-profit to stop.
Another benefit of recurring donations is that micro-donations are incredibly powerful. Would you rather have 1 donor giving your non-profit $10,000 or 1,000 donors giving your non-profit $10? While $10,000 is a dream for most non-profit organizations, losing that donor makes it much more work to find another $10,000. It is a lot easier to find more $10 donors. Plus, it is much easier for those $10 donors to increase their donation amounts over time. You can turn those $10 donors into $20 or $30 donors a lot easier than you can turn $10,000 into a $20,000 or $30,000 donor.
The Catholic Charities of Oklahoma looked at the data from their recurring donation program and saw some interesting things about their recurring donors:
How to Create a Recurring Donation Program for Your Non-Profit Organization
Non-profit organizations of any size can create a recurring donation program to create stable donations for their cause. We recommend following these steps to start your recurring donation program.
Identify Donors to Ask for Recurring Donations
The first step in acquiring monthly recurring donations is to look at your donor lists and identify donors who gave one-time gifts of less than $1,000. Send these people a letter thanking them for their past gifts and asking them if they would be interested in giving a recurring monthly contribution. Then, give a list of examples of the impact their donation could have based on the monetary value.
For example, the Catholic Charities of Oklahoma gave examples of up to $100 per month. $10 per month would provide a homeless snack pack every month. $20 per month would help someone keep their lights on. $40 per month would provide a baby with formula. As we’ve said on this channel, providing the donation's impact helps donors create that emotional connection.
This doesn’t mean that these donations are tied to those specific uses. These are examples so that your donors can see that their $10 donation can have a significant impact. Christi Jeffreys from the Catholic Charities of Oklahoma hand-signed these recurring donation requests, and she found that those recurring donation requests performed better than the other types of copy they trialed for these cards.
Create Extra Benefits for Your Recurring Donors
Induct your recurring donors into an exclusive club where they receive extra value. The Catholic Charities of Oklahoma created the Halo Society and sent members a monthly newsletter highlighting a program, an employee, and a donor. They would talk about how money was used in the program and the good that the program was able to do because of the donations. Their newsletter open rate was 40%, so they could see that their recurring donors loved learning more about their non-profit organization.
Tailor these benefits to your audience and your non-profit. For example:
Ensure your club members get a welcome email when they sign up to get them excited about being a recurring number. This opens a line of communication with your donors and makes them feel like you value them and their donation.
Increase Your Recurring Donations Every Year
Your recurring donations program should look to increase each year in two ways:
1. Increase the number of recurring donors.
2. Increase the donation that each donor is giving.
The easiest way to increase the number of recurring donors is by advertising your exclusive donor club and the benefits on your website. You can talk about how having recurring donations helps your cause and the exclusive value your donors receive.
The Catholic Charities of Oklahoma provides donors with a step-by-step idea of how to become a recurring donor to make it easy for their donors to give. Here is their Halo Society Page as an example. They also listed recurring donations as an option on their giving page so that new donors can make the choice. Folks are conditioned to paying for products and bills monthly, so offering that option makes sense.
To increase the donation that your donors give, email them every other year, asking them if they would like to increase their donation amount. The goal here is to make the decision as easy as possible for them, so be specific about what you are asking them. “Thank you for your recurring gift of $20 a month. Would you consider increasing your gift to $30 a month this year?”
Set a formula for your donors and organizations to dictate the increase based on the amount your donor is currently giving. For example, if a donor gives between $10 and $100, you will ask them for a 5% increase. If they are giving between $100 and $250, you will ask them for a 5% increase.
Catholic Charities of Oklahoma’s Christi Jeffreys joined HGA’s Jason Ledlow and Trevor Nelson on our free webinar for non-profits to discuss how Catholic Charities of Oklahoma raised $400,000 annually through recurring donations. Listen to Episode 118 of the HGAFundraising webinar series to learn how to start collecting recurring donations for your non-profit organization.
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