Donors like the ease of a “set and forget” recurring donation, while nonprofits can benefit from consistent cash flow. It’s a win-win scenario that should be part of every fundraiser’s online donation strategy.
Here’s everything you need to know to get started with recurring donations.
Recurring Giving 101
A recurring gift is any donation that happens on a repeated cycle. In most cases, a recurring donation is initiated through an online form and often happens weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually.
The best online donation systems allow control for users to update payment methods or change recurring donation amounts over time.
It works like this:
- Create an online donation form with a recurring option. You can use GiveWP Recurring Donations for this.
- Consider making the recurring option the default choice for donation forms with smaller suggested donation amounts.
- Support recurring donors with special marketing to thank them for being a part of your team. These can be some of the most committed donors on your list.
- Track donations and watch your sustainable donation campaign work without a lot of additional management.
Recurring donations are a vital part of a fundraising strategy because they are an easy, low-cost, low-effort tool. Regular donations can provide stable cash flow for your nonprofit, and keep donors engaged over time.
Donors also like this option, particularly those that can’t give a lot all at once. Recurring donors often contribute more over the course of a year than a one-time donor. A report from Network for Good shows that recurring donors contribute 42% more over the course of a year.
And it works for donors as well. A recurring gift provides a chance to make a greater impact over time, better fitting individual budgets and timeframes for giving. (Rather than $100 all at once, a $10 monthly donation seems like a lot less money even though it’s a greater donation at the end of one year.)
Recurring donations are good for organizational budgets as well. If you have 100 monthly recurring donations of $25, that’s $2,500 in monthly revenue for your organization. Having a steady flow of funds in addition to special opportunities can make it easier to create and manage budgets over time.
Reasons to Add Recurring Options to Your Online Fundraiser
Adding recurring donation options to online fundraisers is good for donors and your organization.
Quite simply, users like it. Recurring options fall in line with the way users expect online fundraising – and shopping – to work. From subscription boxes to bill pay, users are accustomed to setting a monthly payment once and then leaving it alone. A recurring donation option provides this same expected user experience.
Recurring donations should be part of the foundation of a fundraising strategy because they can help increase revenues, generate greater donor engagement, and lower overall operating expenses.
We’ve established already that donors who use recurring gifts will contribute more over time, but they also tend to feel more connected to your organization and give in addition to the recurring donation.
Recurring donations provide a stable source of revenue and support your mission without additional donor acquisition costs.
Consistent cash flow from recurring revenue makes it easier to plan, budget, and set future fundraising goals.
Recurring donations increase donor retention and participation. These donors feel like a part of your organization and can become some of your strongest ambassadors. Consider offering a small incentive or gift – such as a sticker or can cooler – for recurring donors to help them feel even more connected to your brand.
Every fundraiser knows that there’s a marketing cost associated with each donor. This acquisition cost is significantly reduced with each recurring donor because you get the benefit of donations without having to acquire a new donor.
There are other operational savings as well with fewer mail notifications (by providing a digital or annual gift receipt), and potential make smarter use of donations over time. A donation that happens each month goes into your operation account and accrues interest, giving that money an immediate opportunity to “work” for your organization over time.
5 Ways to Encourage Recurring Gifts
It requires different marketing and communication techniques than some other fundraising campaigns. Remember, donors who give on a continual basis are often some of your most loyal fans and contributors. You want to make sure they feel like a part of your core base or team.
- Prioritize recurring donors with gifts, swag, or recognition that doesn’t come with a one-time gift. These donors can sustain campaigns; make them feel special.
- Create a dedicated and branded landing page for donors using SSL/HTTPS. The donation page should look and feel like your brand to ensure that it is a credible option. Donation pages that don’t look like your website can make users second guess the validity and security of the donation process.
- Include links to credible sources that support the credibility of your organization. Link to organization profiles on GuideStar, Charity Navigator, or the Better Business Bureau as well as provide testimonials from other donors. Establishing trust will empower donors to initiate a recurring donation with an online payment option.
- Include a recurring donation option in addition to other fundraisers. With pledge campaigns, benefits, or online shopping, allow users to add a recurring donation to their “order” for sustained giving.
- Use a social platform for recurring donations that shows each donation and the name of the donor. Showing continued donations can encourage long-term participation in an ongoing campaign. Make it easy for users to share that they are a donor and ask others to join them.
Tips for Successful Recurring Donation Campaigns
Not only do you want donors to initiate recurring gifts, but you want to retain them long term. These donations can have lasting influence on your organization and budget.
- Show the impact of recurring donations and tie each amount to a specific result. Break it down to amounts that match recurring donation levels: “$10 per month may be forgoing one lunch out for you, but it helps us provide [insert organization info].” This allows donors to visualize how they are helping an organization with each donation and over time.
- Make recurring donors feel special with an immediate “Thank You.” Send a thank you email or communication within 24 hours of each donation. Consider adding a reminder to the thank you about how the donation will impact your organization. Make the most of the positive feelings that come with helping out.
- Allow users to create an online account to manage online giving and update payment methods, download tax receipts, and get involved in more ways. Include easy sharing tools and social media imagery, messaging, and tools so these key donors can share information about your organization for you. Social proof and incentives can be a strong motivator to participate.
- Recurring gifts should be about the donor, not about your organization. Remind donors how their impact matters and how they are contributing to the greater good your organization provides.
- Make it easy. The recurring donation option should be on every fundraising page or form. It doesn’t require a lot of explanation; most users will understand the difference between a one-time or recurring gift.
- Create a separate email list to communicate with recurring donors. Use inclusive language that makes them feel like part of your organization – consider using “we” and “us” – and be appreciative of donors’ continued support.
- Track sources of recurring donations. Did they come from your website, a social media campaign, email, or brand ambassador? Repeat campaigns and methods that result in recurring donors and discontinue efforts that don’t generate results.
Try Recurring Donations with GiveWP
GiveWP can help you create a sustainable fundraising campaign that includes recurring donations. This solid foundation can make it easier for you to create budgets, engage with donors, and even lower organization costs.
The GiveWP Recurring Donations Add-on includes all the tools to help you capture more ongoing donations and increase long-term revenues. The tool allows you or donors to choose recurring donation amounts with customized reporting to make donor interactions easy and effective.
You can also send customized emails to communicate with donors and connect it to all popular payment gateways and other GiveWP tools and integrations.
GiveWP users can buy the Recurring Donations add-on now.
If you are new to GiveWP or interested in tools to amplify fundraising on your WordPress website, book a demo with our Customer Success Team.