Building a Monthly Giving Program with Your Supporters

This article was published in TechSoup.org and in Philanthropy News Digest in January 2016.

Building up the number of monthly donors who give regularly to your organization is an important strategy to assure the long-term health of your fundraising efforts. Donors who choose to make monthly gifts are on average more likely to support your organization for a longer period of time. They’re also more likely to donate more money to your organization during their “giving lifetime” than donors who just make single gifts.

Studies released annually by Blackbaud, which tracks giving trends over thousands of nonprofits, show a big growth in donors signing up for monthly giving programs. For many donors, it’s easier to make a gift if they can “spread it out” across 12 months of the year.

Even if you don’t currently have a monthly giving program, it’s not too late to get started. Follow this checklist of 10 strategies and tactics to start building your monthly giving program this year.

1. Give It an Exciting Name

Give your monthly giving program an exciting name so it’ll stand out as an important part of your organization. Names I’ve seen recently include Hunger Core, Partners for Change, Investigations Fund, and Rescue Partners.

2. Set Up Monthly Giving on Your Main Donation Page

Make sure that the main donation page on your website includes a monthly giving option. Many online donation services include this as an option, so be sure to make it available.

3. Consider Having the Monthly Giving Option Pre-selected

If you want to be a bit more aggressive on your main donation page, you could have the monthly giving option pre-selected or shown first before the single one-time gift.

4. Include Monthly Giving Language in All Email Fundraising Appeals

Build awareness by adding monthly giving language to all your email fundraising appeals, either in the body of the message and/or in the P.S., to show your donors that it’s always an option for giving.

5. Add a Monthly Giving Button on Your Home Page

Feature a monthly giving button on your website home page (in addition to the DONATE button). This new button could go alongside the DONATE button, or it could be a drop-down option once the DONATE button is clicked.

6. Ask New Email Subscribers to Give Monthly

Add a monthly giving ask to your new email subscriber Welcome Series. Your new email subscribers are often very motivated to learn what your organization does, and may be interested in making a small monthly donation.

7. Invite Recent Donors to Support You Monthly

A few times a year, email your recent donors and invite them to become monthly donors. Your recent donors are some of your most passionate supporters, so they’re likely to be the most receptive to becoming monthly donors.

8. Create a Campaign to Increase Monthly Giving

Create a month-long “campaign” to recruit and upgrade monthly donors. Pick a month when you’re running an exciting campaign and invite your community to become monthly donors to help support your work. You could consider using a recruitment goal (“We need 50 new monthly donors this month!”) to encourage signups.

You can promote your month-long campaign on your website home page, launch a series of three emails in your chosen month, and promote on your social media channels. Your email campaigns could be targeted at recent donors, non-donors in your file, lapsed donors, and lapsed monthly donors. During this campaign, current monthly donors would be encouraged to upgrade their monthly gift (but only if they’ve been in the program for at least four months).

9. Make Monthly Donors Feel Special

Be sure to send a special biannual email update just for your monthly donors, so they know they’re part of a special group of donors who you appreciate.

10. Promote Your Monthly Giving Program Widely

Don’t hesitate to use other communications channels and activities that might be good places to promote your monthly giving program. Events, newsletters, and print mailings are important venues to get out the word.

Michael Stein has been a writer and digital strategist to progressive social causes for over two decades. He is the author of three books and numerous articles chronicling the rise of digital marketing, mobile, and online fundraising. He works as a consultant and coach to nonprofits, foundations and educators, with a focus on marketing and fundraising in a multi-channel and multi-screen world.

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