If I told you that there was one simple tactic that supercharges donations, helps your finance team plan for the future, and gives your donors an easier and more streamlined giving process, would you implement it immediately?
I’m talking about recurring donations.
So what are recurring donations? Recurring donations (also known as recurring giving) allow donors to automatically give a set amount of money on a recurring basis. They can range from weekly, all the way up to annually. Monthly recurring donations are most common.
There are a number of reasons recurring donations are crucial to churches, political campaigns, and nonprofit groups. In this post, I’ll go over all of those reasons, along with a step by step guide on how to implement recurring donations today. I’ll also show you some specific tactics that you can use to take recurring giving to the next level.
Before we get to all of that, take a look at these stats:
- Recurring donors will give 42% more in one year than those who give one-time gifts
- Recurring donors are 440% more valuable (in terms of total donations) than one-time donors
440% is a lot - especially in terms of donors.
3 reasons recurring donations work
There are several reasons recurring giving should be a key pillar in your online fundraising strategy. I’ll go over the top three.
The first and most obvious reason is an increase in donations.
The average one time charitable gift is $128.00.
The average monthly online donation to charitable organizations is $52.00.
That equates to $624 over the course of a year!
$128 vs $624 is a significant difference. When donors give on a regular basis, their gift compounds. Rather than asking for a one-time hefty amount, try asking for a smaller gift but on a recurring basis.
Imagine the impact on your mission if all of your one-time donors became monthly donors!
On top of the increased donations, you’ll also be establishing a long term relationship with your donor. Instead of a one and done donation, your donor will stick around - much longer than a one time donor!
Recurring donations brings predictability back into the equation. Once you can better predict your donation numbers, you can make wiser decisions for your organization. If you’re relying on the generosity of one-time donors, revenue can be sporadic and difficult to plan around.
Once you have a tribe of reliable recurring donors, you can better plan things like staffing, marketing, growth, and other expenses.
Recurring donations are even better than pledges for planning. When a donor pledges a gift, they may forget to send in their donation. When they’ve signed up for automated recurring giving, you’ll have the peace of mind that the donation will hit your bank account when they said it would.
Having recurring donations is great - but what happens when the credit cards expiration date approaches and comes to pass? This will usually result in a canceled donation. The good news is that all of that can be avoided when using Anedot. You can always be sure that recurring donations will be processed because we have a credit card updater that automatically updates information for any recurring donor whose credit card is expiring in 30 days or less.
A benefit to the donor
Recurring donations are a benefit and a convenience to donors. Remember: People are generous and want to give. You must make that process easy for them.
Give donors the option to make their gifts automatically recur on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis. Once implemented, they don’t need to worry about manually completing each donation.
Note: There are scam artists - particularly in the political space - who intentionally trick donors into donating on a recurring basis. The scammers make it seem like the donation is only being processed once, but in reality the donation will be withdrawn from the donor’s account every month.
On top of that, they make it difficult for the recurring donation to be canceled.
Another tactic scammers will try is to stack multiple recurring donations on top of one another, so in essence, the donor gives multiple amounts, multiple times a month. These scammers tend prey on senior citizens.
This unethical business practice must be avoided at all costs. While there are short term monetary gains to these scams, they never pay off in the end.
Make it abundantly clear to your donors what their options are in terms of recurring donations and what all it entails. Give your donors straightforward instructions on how to easily cancel recurring commitments.
The goal is to build trust and long-term relationships with your donors - not get-rich-quick schemes.
Tactics to take recurring donations to the next level
Now I want to show you some tactics on how to go beyond simply enabling recurring giving options on your donation forms. These strategies can help you build a sustainable stream of online donations.
When you set up a donation page on Anedot, you can add upsells. Upsells are essentially an additional request that is made after a donor completes the donation. A recurring upsell asks the donor to make their donation on a recurring basis.
Here’s an example:
- Donor makes a one-time donation of $25.
- The donation page then brings up the upsell: “Would you consider making your donation on a monthly basis? Monthly donations are the lifeblood of our organization. You can cancel at any time!”
- The donor opts in, then your organization automatically receives the donation each month.
Use donation tiers
Show your donors different tiers to show how their gifts can add up. Tell them how a single one-time gift is appreciated, but then show them how recurring giving can add up.
You could make different donation tiers like Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Then under each of these tiers visually do the math showing how the recurring donations add up.
Here’s one way you might lay it out:
Thank you so much for choosing to support our mission.
Please consider our Winner’s Circle.
- $18,000/three years
- $3,600/three years
- $1,800/three years
These donation tiers accomplish a few different things:
- It makes the recurring program feel special and elite. This is the type of program that your most loyal supporters are likely to join. You could also consider offering exclusive perks for each tier, such as private monthly calls/updates with your founder, access to private Facebook groups, or even limited release merchandise.
- These donation tiers also accomplish something else. They show how smaller gifts can quickly add up in a very straightforward and easy to understand way. $50 quickly becomes $600! Smaller gifts can make big impacts over time.
Similar to the donation tiers above, a dollar club can also be a way to help smaller donations go a long way. Dollar clubs can especially be useful in the context of local churches when fundraising for mission trips, youth events, or new buildings.
Encourage your donors to go beyond their regular gifts, and join the dollar club. You could set up three tiers for the dollar club, starting with $1 per week, the middle tier at $5 per week, and the highest tier at $10 per week.
Remember, these gifts add up. A core group of 1,000 dependable donors giving $1 a week can prove to be invaluable. (That’s $52,000/year!)
How to set it up
Getting your donation page set up with recurring giving is simple when using Anedot.
Don’t have an Anedot account? Sign up here and start raising money.
Step 1. Login into your Anedot Fundraising account and open up your Campaign.
Step 2. Click Edit.
Step 3. Select the Finance tab.
Step 4. Choose either "Button Group" or "Checkbox" Recurring Payment.
Step 5. Select up to four frequencies (Once, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, Semiannually, and Yearly) to allow donors to continue giving on a recurring basis. You can also set up a Campaign to only accept recurring donations by leaving just one recurring option selected.
It’s that simple!
If you have any questions about recurring giving or would like to strategize online fundraising with our Success team, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you don’t have a way to receive donations online, there’s never been a better time to get started.