Apr 25, 2021

3 Powerful Strategies to Boost Recurring Giving

Digital Tablet on a table next to a coffee mug and plant

As we learn more about the adverse impacts of the pandemic on the nonprofit sector, charities across all sectors experienced a decline in donations compared to the same period in 2019. 2021 is expected to be another lean year. Nonprofits, which routinely strive to maximize their impact, are now simultaneously faced with fewer resources and more demand for their services.

Charities typically spend more resources acquiring a donor than the value of that donor’s first gift. To break even on their donor outreach, they must receive multiple gifts from the donor. Not only is retaining existing donors cheaper than acquiring new ones, forging long-term relationships with donors encourages them to give larger donations in the future. That’s why we’re providing you with three expert strategies for retaining existing donors and boosting recurring giving. Continue reading to learn how you can increase the lifetime value of your donors.


1. Invest in Donor Stewardship

On average, it can take 4-5 years and 18-24 personalized touchpoints to successfully obtain a major gift from a recurring donor. One major gift can exceed the total value of donations made by one-time donors in a year. This practice of long-term relationship-building aimed at soliciting a major gift is called donor stewardship.

Here’s what you can do to ensure your donor stewardship is efficient and makes the best use of your resources:

Choose an online fundraising platform that allows you to personalize communications

Personalize communications: To successfully engage with a large number of donors in a meaningful way, you need to maintain a donor database with detailed donor information, down to notable events or milestones happening in their lives. By tracking this information, you can watch for patterns and forge better relationships with your supporters by personalizing and customizing communications. Supporters are more likely to engage with your outreach if you tailor it to the type of donor they are. Delivering a personalized experience to those already part of your nonprofit’s community will keep them connected and more likely to continue donating in the future.

Prioritize outreach:  Apart from donation frequency, you can also segment donors by donation level. You likely won’t have the time or capacity to call or meet with all your donors personally. By grouping donors by levels, you can devote more time to personally interacting with higher-level supporters. For example, you could personally call or meet major donors, and send handwritten notes and personalized emails to your mid-level donors.

2. Optimize the Donor Experience

To build strong relationships, nonprofits must optimize the donor experience across all of a donor’s interactions with the organization.

Online giving forms with dynamic actions make giving frictionless

Make giving frictionless: Even if your donors may not quite be able to point to what they specifically liked about your donation process, they will appreciate the ease with which they were able to donate. Creating a frictionless donation process has much to do with your payment processor. It requires the ability to securely accept multiple payment types such as ACH direct debit, and consistent branding across all donation forms and pages. For example, your processor should not redirect donors away from your website to complete transactions because it makes your donation process seem less secure.

Express gratitude: A prompt thank you gives donors confidence that you received their gift and will use it immediately. Expressing gratitude early, frequently and in various ways makes a positive first impression and reinforces their decision to give.

Maintain consistency in messaging: Your team having access to all your donor and transaction data in one place helps improve consistency in messaging, regardless of which of your team members or volunteers interact with them. It also helps train new employees and volunteers uniformly and conveys a sense of stability to donors even in the event of personnel changes.

3. Leverage integrated payment processing

GiveSmart allows users to automate messages of lost or canceled credit cards

Use a donation software with integrated payment processing that allows you to offer multiple ways to give, such as direct debit or ACH payments. Offering an ACH payment option can increase the lifetime value of a donor by up to 55 percent. This is because alternative payment methods can help retain donors by preventing lapsed credit cards and missed payments.  

Even if a donor misses a payment due to a canceled or lost credit card, you should have a system in place for connecting with them to get their new credit card information. Many donors forget to update their credit card information when it changes.

For example, some payment processors, such as iATS Payments, offer an account updater tool, which automatically contacts the donor’s bank in the event of lapsed credit cards. It then obtains their updated information, saving you lost revenue due to missed payments, the effort of updating credit cards manually, and from inconveniencing your donors. iATS Account Updater runs daily and automatically updates payment card information, meaning your organization always has up-to-date donor data, making it easier and faster for you to raise funds.

To ensure sustained growth for your nonprofit, you can convert more one-time donors into recurring ones by:

  • Engaging donors on an individual level throughout the year, not only when asking for a gift.
  • Optimizing the donor experience at every step of a donor’s journey and at every interaction with your organization.
  • Providing a seamless and convenient donation experience with integrated payment processing.
  • Investing in time and technology now to forge long-term relationships with donors makes them invested in your success and give larger donations in the future.

We hope you walk away from this blog post with a fresh set of donor retention strategies and inspiration to forge long term relationships with your donors.

Request a Demo

Our goal at GiveSmart is to help nonprofit organizations create and manage successful digital fundraising campaigns, raise more money and retain donors longer. Request a free demo with one of our fundraising experts to learn, step by step, how GiveSmart can simply help set up your campaigns while transforming your results.


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The Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island

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MicroFinancing Partners in Africa

GiveSmart is highly flexible - you can use it for [a] simple registration and check-in, to full-scale galas with complex order forms, onsite upsells, live auctions, seating management, and more.

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Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

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Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County