Many nonprofit organizations are successful at getting donors to contribute to their causes — the first time. The challenge is to get them to open their wallets on an ongoing basis for recurring donations.

People who give a second and subsequent time tend to increase their donation amounts. Recurring donors give 42% more per year than those who make a one-time gift.

Ways to turn one-time donors into recurring donors:

The nonprofits that are most successful at growing their number of recurring donations know how to leverage the all-important initial connection. Some time-tested methods for accomplishing the task include:

  • Display your gratitude: Most donors like to feel that the organization genuinely appreciates their contribution. While many nonprofits don’t have the resources to send donors an elaborate gift, there are other more budget-friendly and effective ways to express your thanks. Even a heartfelt email will let contributors know that you care.
  • Show the impact: Donors also want to know that you’re putting their money to good use. Consider sending a before/after photo of an area their funds have helped to rebuild after a disaster. You could also send an email containing an anecdote or two about how their donation has assisted someone in their recovery. By doing so, you’ll set the stage for additional donations. Use these 12 strategies to show your organization’s impact.
  • Build a robust donor database: The more you know about your donors, the easier it is to target them to make additional fundraising requests.Building a comprehensive database gives you access to donor profiles and other useful information to help you establish and maintain valuable connections.
  • Use an automated donation collection method: Don’t expect donors to remember to send you a check every month. These days, many people pay their monthly bills via automatic deductions from their bank accounts or credit cards. Doing the same to accept recurring donations will make things easier for donors and ensure consistent contributions to your nonprofit.
  • Enhance program visibility: If you want people to start making recurring donations, you need to get the word out about your program. An excellent way to increase visibility is to share posts on social media that highlight specific donors, as well as the impact their donations have made. You can also create a targeted social media campaign that promotes the program. If you accept donations online, make sure the form offers an option to make ongoing contributions.
  • Tie to membership: Allow donors to become a member of your nonprofit organization in exchange for their recurring donation. You could offer certain perks with a membership, such as free publications or other gifts that aren’t available to the general public.

Benefits of adding a recurring giving option to your fundraising campaigns

GiveSmart offers a seamless, on-brand experience for one-time supporters to migrate to being automatic monthly donors.

If you recently lost access to your recurring giving platform or you are investigating if having a recurring giving option is the right strategy to pursue, please hear from your peers on why it is worth it in the video below!

From May 2020 to February 2021, our partners saw over a 700% increase in recurring gifts. That is proof that not providing this option means you are leaving money on the table. 

Seek a technology that allows you to add a recurring giving option at every turn. Whether your donor is checking out during your silent auction, supporting you on #GivingTuesday, voting for the most accurate pet celebrity doppelgänger, or texting to give – he/she/they should have the option to make a monthly gift.

Interested in capturing these donations in support of your mission? Connect with the GiveSmart team!

Looking for inspiration?

GiveSmart has several partners who are doing recurring giving right! For inspiration, check out examples featuring both recurring giving donation campaigns and fundraisers that added recurring giving below.

Recurring giving donation campaigns

Fundraisers that added recurring giving

Brandon Stec is the Director of Marketing at GiveSmart and an Indiana University graduate who's worked across sports and tech over the last decade. Brandon has sat on several boards of Nonprofits in Chicago and Kansas City. He resides in Chicago with his wife, son, and dog, Mango, and is a published author.
Brandon Stec