Organizations, Institutions, and faith-based organizations thrive on the giving of others. So help them give on a recurring basis. Here’s how.

Here’s why we believe every nonprofit needs recurring donations.

Even the best fundraisers and organizations know that generating recurring giving from your membership, donor base, or congregation is the X factor in building your cause.

Sound the horn! Convene the board! Your nonprofit needs to start accepting recurring donations online.

Recurring donations, especially online, helps fundraising in a number of ways. Namely, recurring increases your donations, helps retain donors, and, lowers your operating costs.

Increase Total Donor Funds

Having a donor base that sustains your Cause requires many donations consistently given throughout the year — not just large sums given during on-off campaigns.

Sustainers donate more frequently—whether it’s monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly. So if you can turn your one-time donors into recurring givers, you can increase your annual revenue this year, and in the years to come.

Sally Heaven, np Engage

Research proves that annual giving, broken into monthly payments, drives fundraising. Additionally, other industries, including telecom and finance have used this model to generate income for much of their industries’ history. Even SaaS companies, website hosts, and other online tools easily collect $14.99 a month instead of a lower cost of $99 today.

Network For Good has some valuable data on the power of recurring donors.

  • The average recurring donor gives 42% more than one-time donors.
  • Donors are 31% more likely to donate on a branded donation page.
  • Donations are 43% larger on branded donation pages that make suggested donation amounts.
  • 52% of millennials are interested in monthly giving.

Setting up a recurring donations configuration in your Giving forms online will have a profound impact on total donor giving.  As prospective donors come to your website, watch your video, and read your copy they will often want to participate along your journey — long term.

Research tells us that donors want to give more than money. Recurring gifts enable your donors to feel an obligation and a commitment beyond that of a one-time gift.

Donor Retention

Emotional investments often have much more impact than one-time gifts. Because recurring donors are emotionally invested in your nonprofit’s purpose, they are more likely to continue on as donors.

So, while donors that require constant renewal rarely make it past 2 years, monthly donors keep giving for 10 years plus.


Lowers Operating Costs

Recurring donors, especially monthly donors, give you a budgetary base for projecting funds year-over-year. In the business world they would be considered a “lifetime customer.” The lifetime value for a customer is often measured at five times that of a one-time gift.

Recurring donors are much more than just a part of your cause; they are part of your organization’s total journey. As recurring donors grow, your cost-per-new-donor should decrease. Since you budget your fundraising allocations against a recurring donor value of 5X, you avoid incurring additional operating expenses to gain new donors.

Emotionally invested, the recurring donor is part of the “we” not the “they.”

How can recurring donations increase your gross donation revenue?

Here’s a table to show how your growing organization would benefit from recurring donations, not just in year one but in the following year, too.

For the sake of this table, we’ve focused on gross donations only.

Type Give with Recurring Donations Give Free
Total One-Time Donors 640 800
Donors Opted into Recurring Giving 160 0
Average One-Time Donation $100 $100
Average Recurring Donation (Monthly) $25 0
Total Year 1 Revenue $112,000 $80,000
Years 2 Retained Donors 70% 70%
Total Year 2 One-Time Donors 448 560
Total Year 2 Recurring Donors 144 0
Average One-Time Donation Y2 $100 $100
Average Recurring Donation (Monthly) Y2 $35 $0
Total Year 2 Revenue $105,280 $56,000
Combined Revenue $217,280 $136,000


So you’ve chosen to start accepting recurring gifts. Great Decision! Start with a Plus Bundle.

But not all recurring donations tools are created equal. To get the most of your recurring donations campaign, you’ll want to make sure you have some important features.


Must-Have Features of your Recurring Platform

Have a Compelling Landing Page

When you create your recurring donations landing page, there are a few things you can do to accomplish your main goal: THE GIVING ASK!

People want to know how their money is being used. It’s not because they don’t trust you, it’s because they want to know they’re making a difference.

Think about the campaigns you saw on TV growing up,

“For about 70 cents you can buy a pack of gum. In Central America for 70 cents a day you can help a child like Maria who received an operation to restore her sight.”

Sally Struthers Christian Children’s Fund Commercial (1987)

Classic television commercial for the Christian Children’s Fund, featuring Sally Struthers. (1987)

So if you’re feeding the homeless in Anaheim, be specific. Tell your donors how much each meal costs and what their donation will do.

For example: “It costs us $100 a week to give 75 homeless men, women, and children a hot meal. Your $25 gift provides 18 people with a hot meal they would have been without.”

Donors want reassurance that their monthly gift is going to make a difference, so it is important to explain exactly what that donation will accomplish.

Allison Gauss, Classy

Keep Your Donors on Your Landing Page

Now that you’ve made a gorgeous and compelling landing page, you need to keep your donors there. Some platforms force donors to finalize their donation on a third-party website. If that site doesn’t look like your organization it’s likely that your donors are not going to feel comfortable typing in their sensitive credit card information and finalize their payment.

Bottom line: invest wisely in tools that keep your donors on your website rather than move them offsite where they may never come back again.

Segment Your Recurring Donors

Recurring donors should be placed on a separate email list and get regular updates from the work your nonprofit is doing. Recurring donors are akin to magazine subscribers — they’re emotionally invested. They want to know about the progress your organization is making.

Start by making sure that recurring donors are placed on a separate email list – the goal being to send them only the messages that apply to them.

Allison Gauss, Classy 


Say Thank You!

When a donor donates, gratitude is the most important response. Everything about your interaction with this donor should be expressed with a tone of thankfulness. Typically, there are several ways you’ll interact with your donor after that initiate a recurring donation and each is an opportunity to make them feel special with gratitude:

  • The donation confirmation page should open with THANK YOU!
  • In your donation email receipt, ditch “Dear Sir or Madam” and go with “Thank you {fullname} for your generous donation!”
  • When a new recurring payment is processed, email them with a Thanks!

When we interact with people face to face these things might seem automatic and second nature, but sometimes it’s very easy to overlook the obvious when you’re setting up your donation system.

When looking for a recurring donations platform, make sure it has a means for you to customize these messages in a way that shouts “Thank You!”

The Easiest Way to Setup Recurring Donations is with Give

All of these ideas and concepts are possible relatively easily with Give and our Recurring Donations Add-on.

Do you want to lower your operating costs? Some third-party platforms charge you additional fees to implement Recurring Donations through their platform. We crunched the numbers and our upfront costs save you a lot of money regardless of how large your campaign goal is.

Do you want strong landing pages? Give is easy to configure with any WordPress theme. Your forms will look great and be responsive right out of the box.

Do you want to keep your donors on your website? Give lets you do that with our growing catalog of Payment Gateways.

Do you want to segment your Recurring Donor email lists? If you designate a specific form as recurring, you can use either our MailChimp or Constant Contact integrations to designate those donors to a specific list.

Do you want robust reporting? Give already has robust reporting built in. But with our Recurring Donations Add-on, your recurring donors have their own reports. Donors can also view or cancel their subscriptions whenever they want.

Best of all, do you want to have an experienced, friendly, and technical team available throughout the week to support you? We pride ourselves on our documentation and the team at our Priority Support Desk. If you have questions or need assistance with Give or Recurring Donations, we’re here to help.

We know that recurring donations will benefit your organization. We believe we’ve built the most robust self-hosted solution for recurring donations available. We believe this so strongly that we provide a 30-day money back guarantee. If you don’t like it, reach out to our Support Desk and we can either solve your problem or give you a full refund.

Try Give today for free on your WordPress website, and get our Recurring Donations Add-on to see your organization’s campaign goals skyrocket this year.


Give Add-on: Recurring Donations

Matt Cromwell

Matt is a co-author of Give and is Head of Support and Community Outreach for He loves writing docs and being "Generally helpful since birth".

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