May 16, 2021

Establishing a Successful Monthly Giving Program: Part One


In a recent phone call, the Director of Development of a small organization described her frustration with the time it took to renew loyal donors. She mentioned that they always gave—sometimes to every appeal—but felt she was wasting limited resources on securing their gift.

“I wish it didn’t take so much effort to renew our donors, we’re a small shop and we count on their donations, but it feels like it should be simpler.”

Hearing this, I had an idea that could help streamline her fundraising and allow her donors to renew with a lot less effort. I suggested we set up a monthly giving campaign using her Digital Marketing Services Engagement in lieu of their upcoming spring appeal. Monthly giving campaigns allow supporters to automate their gifts and require little to no maintenance on their behalf. I knew this could be a great solution for her.

But she felt trepidation at first; some of her older donors were still uncomfortable with credit card charges. She was also unsure if some of her donors could afford to give every month. Lastly, she felt that, despite all the effort required, her donors truly enjoyed receiving their ongoing appeals, thank yous, and learning about what was happening at their nonprofit.

Her concerns are valid, and you may have the same ones. Yet, there are incredibly valuable ways to integrate a monthly giving program into an organization’s unique fundraising strategy while meeting the needs of donors. Automated monthly giving can still come with thank yous, newsletters, and insights into the impact of giving. And it is true that a person who is fearful of donating by credit card would probably not make the best prospect here. So instead, let’s determine who are the best prospects for a monthly giving campaign.

Would you like to learn more about how GiveSmart can help you set up an
online giving form with recurring giving options for your organization?
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Step 1: Segmenting Your List

teal line

We began our process of figuring out who would be most inspired to take action from a well-planned and executed monthly giving campaign by taking a look at donors who:

  • Have given a smaller-sized gift (e.g. $50–200, typically less than $100/year) for at least two years in a row
  • Have given a similar-sized gift each year for a long period of time (e.g. $20/year for 3-5 years)
  • Have given by credit card (most GiveSmart donors will fit this bill)
  • Are young supporters
  • Are volunteers

All the groups outlined above include people who are passionate about her organization. They may not presently have the means to donate a lot but have shown commitment to her mission with regular giving or volunteer work. These are people who are perhaps unable to gift $200 in one transaction but may have the ability to give say, $16 a month.

“Even if we could get a small percentage of them to become monthly donors, that would be amazing! It would provide us with a reliable source of funds and help us plan more accurately for future expenses. My board would be so thrilled!”

Well, it is possible! A recent Donor Benchmark Study showed that, on average, in organizations with less than $2 million in revenue, 11% of their donors give monthly.

With her new prospect list in hand, we started mapping her outreach strategy and form set up for her upcoming monthly giving campaign. In part two of this series, we will develop a more detailed outreach plan for the organization and build compelling donation forms that encourage supporters to enroll in monthly giving.

In the meantime, go ahead and pull your own lists of prospects, so you will be prepared to develop your unique outreach plan next month in part two of our series on monthly giving programs!


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