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Need More Regular Monthly Donors? How to Nurture Them

Does your nonprofit have a goal to grow your regular monthly donors?

It makes a lot of sense to do this. You’ve probably found from your own fundraising activities that it’s more costly to find new donors than to retain your current ones. While large, one-off donations are still important, the lifetime value of a regular donor does add up.

To attract more regular donors, you’ve got to understand the profiles of people who tend to sign up to donate monthly, develop activities to attract them, then make sure you continue to nurture them once they show interest in your organization and come on board as a donor. It sounds simple enough, yet donor retention is a common struggle for nonprofits.

While there is no “one size fits all” approach to attracting and retaining monthly donors, there are some solid guidelines that can help you to forge strong connections. Here, we’re looking at some tips and recommendations for getting more of those regular donors…

Why are recurring donors important?

Recurring donors offer multiple benefits for the organizations that have them:

Recurring donors may have a higher lifetime value

Some fundraising research has found that recurring donors “have the highest lifetime financial return, 42 percent above fundraisers and 440 percent above one-time donors.” Around 75% will keep those monthly donations coming in for at least six months, while many will set up monthly donations and simply leave them automatically contributing for years.

It’s true, you can get some substantial one-off donations or fundraiser results, but recurring donors who stick around for years often end up contributing more over time.

Recurring donors provide consistent donor contributions

Recurring donors can also save you from having to constantly look for new donors. Their contributions are a virtual guarantee of consistent donor income, without having to make constant appeals. This makes it easier for your organization to prepare forecasts and plan ahead for your activities.

There’s also the fact that recurring donations are easy for both the donor and the organization to manage. The donor sets up a direct debit authorization for the nonprofit and doesn’t have to do anything else to maintain it. The organization automatically receives the funds each month and doesn’t have to do much in the way of administrative work for them.

A recurring donation can be an easier “ask”

Look at it this way, at least 73% of Americans donate to charitable causes over the course of a year. This includes a good chunk of middle and lower-income households, who still want to be able to contribute.

If you’re going to ask someone from an average income household if they could donate $600 to your organization, that’s often going to be a difficult ask. They may not have that available as a lump sum, however, they may be happy to make a monthly contribution of $50. We talk about how donors need to have an affinity to your organization and the capacity to donate – often, those smaller monthly contributions allow them to have the capacity to donate to an organization they are passionate about.

Recurring donors are often advocates for your organization

Recurring donors tend to be among your most loyal advocates. They often end up giving extra, one-off donations during appeals (such as Giving Tuesday), and because of their interest in your cause, they often tell their friends about your organization.

Your recurring donors often become like a community, with a shared sense of belonging. If you can keep them engaged and excited about your mission, they’ll proudly communicate it with others.

What appeals to people who become regular donors?

The good news is, you probably already have people in your database who would be good candidates for monthly giving. With a bit of research, you can also build a profile for those who you don’t know yet – people out there in the community who would sign up to donate monthly if the opportunity is offered to them.

Here are a few tips for appealing to new monthly donors:

Look for past contributions

You probably already have donors in your database who have given small amounts in the past. Where people have donated, especially if they have done so more than once,indicates that they have an affinity for your organization and might be willing to donate more often.

Some typical things to look for in your database include:

  • Donors who have given $100 or less
  • Donors who have made more than one small donation
  • Donors who usually give by credit card

You might consider reaching out to these people by mail, inviting them to give a small amount on a continuous, monthly basis. To enhance your appeal, make sure you provide them with examples of how your organization is using monthly contributions to make a difference. Seeing the impact their donation can make may entice them to become a monthly donor.

Approach the right donor profiles

What about those new donors out there who you haven’t met yet? You need to be able to build a pipeline of new donors to approach, who have the inclination and capacity to donate to your organization.

This starts by building a good donor profile so that you can target the most likely people. A donor screening solution like iWave accesses multiple databases so that you can use custom search criteria to build a prospect list.

The right profiles have the ability to donate, as well as an affinity with your cause. For example, they may have shown interest in similar causes previously. They may be connected to related causes in some way, through their work or personal connections. iWave’s affinity scoring helps to build the most likely list.

Share monthly giving impact stories

Some of the very well-known monthly donor programs involve organizations that sponsor children and families in hardship. You’ve probably seen their advertising – they lean heavily on sharing the impact that monthly contributions make. For example, how “one dollar per day sends a child to school.”

Consider how monthly donations make a real impact on the cause that your organization supports, and share stories around that. People often wonder if their modest donation really helps, so they like to see stories that tell of the work those donations enable.

Keep donors in the loop

Once you have people on board as regular monthly donors, they like to know that they’re continuing to help make a difference with their contributions. It’s important to keep them in the loop by communicating often. You don’t want any donor to ever be wondering what is happening with their donations – they should be aware.

How do you nurture regular donors?

With that last donor appeal tip in mind, continuing to nurture your regular donors is an important task. It helps to retain them for the long-term and to reassure them that their contribution is needed and valued. Here are some tips for the ongoing nurturing of monthly donors:

Be responsive to any communication

Customer service is important for your regular donors. If they call, write, email, or text, they should get a timely response. This reassures them that they are valued and that your organization operates professionally.

Be communicative

You should send regular correspondence to your monthly donors. If you want to keep their attention, mix up the format of your communication and perhaps include items to encourage their engagement.

For example, you might mail out a quarterly update, and send emails monthly. Maybe you encourage people to contribute an additional one-off donation to be entered into a draw for a prize. Of course, you should also keep them updated with how their donations are being used and the real stories of their impact.

How you communicate with donors sets the tone for your whole relationship.

Find creative ways to say thank you

You should always thank donors immediately for their contribution, and for monthly donors, mixing up how you thank them is often appreciated. For example, you might send out a thank you card with a progress report, or maybe include a sticker or something similar that identifies them as members of your “donor club.”

Create exclusive opportunities

People like the feeling of belonging to an exclusive club, so one thing you can do to nurture your regular donors is offering them exclusive content and opportunities. For example, maybe they get personally invited to fundraisers, or maybe you can make exclusive offers just for them via sponsorship partners.

Stay on top of credit card payments

Credit cards get lost or stolen, they also expire every few years. When these things happen, automatic payments attached to those cards decline and this is a time when you’re particularly vulnerable to losing a donor.

There are tools available out there that automate your ability to continue payments via their bank, but otherwise, it’s important to stay on top of communication about payment. For example, your system will have an expiry date recorded for the credit card, so you can reach out a month or so ahead of when they should have an updated card.

Grow your monthly donors with donor screening software

iWave offers unique affinity scoring and powerful donor screening software so that you can identify and nurture the most likely prospects for monthly giving. Here is what Matthew Patchell, Chief Development Officer, Junior State of America had to say about us:

“iWave paid for itself in our first week of service by identifying the capacity, the propensity to be philanthropic, and the affinity for our mission. The integration with Salesforce is very powerful indeed, and presents the considerable potential to streamline our information management, and therefore to focus our time effectively.”

Request your free demo of iWave’s fundraising intelligence platform here.

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