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How To Set Up Recurring Donations And Why Every Nonprofit Needs To

Learn how to set up recurring donations for your nonprofit in minutes. Whatever your cause, recurring donations bring in more sustainable income over time.

Organizations, institutions, and faith-based organizations thrive on the generosity of others. Help people give on their own schedule by offering a flexible recurring donations platform.

Why Recurring Donations Are Critical for Nonprofits

The best fundraisers and organizations know that capturing recurring donors is the foundation of your organizations longevity. You need them to create a steady cash flow over time.

When you accept recurring donations online, you help your fundraising efforts in a number of ways. Namely, recurring donations increases your income, 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 major campaigns.

Recurring donors give more frequently, no matter what schedule they choose. So you can increase your annual revenue for this year and years to come by turning one-time givers into recurring donors.

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 GiveWP with Recurring Donations GiveWP 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


Setting up a recurring donations platform has a profound impact on total donor giving. Research tells us that donors want to give more than money but it’s hard to give it all at once. Recurring gifts enable your donors to feel an obligation and 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.

You might even consider giving your recurring donors gifts to keep your organization top of mind. Stickers are great recurring donor gifts. They turn your donor into a brand ambassador.

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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 and will help you bring in additional recurring donors. As your sustaining donor community grows, your cost-per-new-donor will decrease.

Recurring donors are emotionally invested and should be part of the “we,” not the “they.”

So you’ve chosen to start accepting recurring gifts. Great Decision! Schedule a one-on-one consultation with an expert.

Not all recurring donation platforms are created equal. Get a sense for how GiveWP Recurring Donations works and how it can adapt to your exact needs in a one-on-on demo with our team.

Schedule a Demo

How to Set up Recurring Donations on WordPress

Setting up recurring donations on WordPress is fairly simple. All you need is GiveWP and the Recurring Donations add-on. Once those two pieces are installed and activated, you can collect Stripe or PayPal recurring donations immediately. If you want to use another payment gateway, there are many others to choose from as well.

The harder part is implementing your recurring donation forms in a compelling way that drives donors to actually sign up. Donation subscription requests always need to be accompanied by great eCommerce conversion best practices, including storytelling!

1) Create 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. Most importantly, they want to be told this information in a compelling way.

Think about including a well-designed video that combines both statistics and storytelling, like this one from The Girl Effect.

Donors want to feel the impact they’re making and know that the money they donated went to the right place. There are plenty of ways you can use donation page best practices to drive donors to sign up for regular giving. Another one of our favorite ways is to include social proof.

2) Keep Your Donors on Your Landing Page

Now that you’ve made a gorgeous and compelling landing page for recurring donors, you need to keep them there. Some platforms force donors to finalize their donation on a third-party website.

If that site doesn’t look like your main website, it’s likely that your donors are not going to feel comfortable typing in their sensitive credit card information to finalize their payment. Just sending a donor off-site might deter them.

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.

3) Say Thank You!

When anyone donates, gratitude is the most important response. For recurring donors, this is especially true.

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! You might even consider creating a custom thank you page specifically for recurring donors.
  • 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!

Things might seem automatic and second nature when you’re face to face, but sometimes it’s easy to overlook the obvious when you’re setting up an online recurring donation platform.

When looking for a recurring donations platform, make sure it has a means for you to customize your forms, landing pages, “thank you” screens and emails. Most importantly, make sure it has the right reporting features you need to keep track of your recurring donor retention.

4) Segment Your Recurring Donors

Finally, your recurring donors should be placed on a separate email list and where they get regular updates about your nonprofit’s work. These donors are akin to magazine subscribers.  They’re emotionally invested. Sustaining supporters always want to know about the progress your organization is making, otherwise why are they sending you money?

It’s easiest to do this by setting up a form specifically for recurring donations and using a MailChimp or Constant Contact integration to send your recurring donors to a specific list. That way, you can maintain recurring donor relations more efficiently.

The Easiest Way to Set up Recurring Donations is with the GiveWP Donations Plugin

Recurring donations is just the tip of the iceberg. GiveWP provides a full suite of add-ons to build your perfect fundraising platform. Ask donors to cover fees, give in honor of a loved one, or add a donation from your WooCommerce store.

Amplify your fundraising with a GiveWP Plan

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? GiveWP is easy to configure with any WordPress theme and page builder. Your forms will look great and be responsive right out of the box.

Do you want to keep your donors on your website? GiveWP 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? GiveWP 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 GiveWP or Recurring Donations, we’re here to help.

We know that recurring donations will benefit your organization.

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

Try GiveWP Free

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