If there is one fundraising strategy that you commit to this year, make
it to set up and grow your monthly giving program. There is no better
way to retain your existing donors, gain sustainable revenue, and
upgrade annual giving amounts.
Why Your Donors Want Monthly Giving
Your monthly giving program enables donors to give twelve times per year
by filling out a single form or pledge card just one time. It’s the
simplest, most effective way for people to support your cause. Donors
can pick an affordable amount to be automatically donated to your
nonprofit and feel good knowing they’re making a difference every month.
They’ll also benefit at tax time by having one receipt at the end of the
year. Plus, they’ll enjoy the convenience of paperless, online
How a Monthly Giving Program Fits Into Your Fundraising Strategy
A monthly giving program can positively impact your fundraising goals
through increased annual giving gift totals, regular, sustainable
revenue, and improved donor retention.
GOAL: Increase Total Annual Giving
Our data shows that monthly giving donors donate over 7X more than one-time donors. On
average, the total annual gifts given by a one-time donor is $227.
Monthly supporters donate $1663 annually on average. A Monthly
Giving Program is an effortless way for donors to upgrade their annual
GOAL: Build Sustainable Revenue
Timely and predictable, monthly gifts empower your organization to
accurately budget for the resources you need to accomplish specific
tasks and goals. The more monthly donors you have, the more dollars
you can confidently dedicate to both your current and forecasted
According to our data, the current median of a one-time gift is $50.
The current median of a monthly donor gift is $30 a month, or $360 a
year. Converting 100 one time donations to monthly gifts pays huge
dividends! In the example below, you’d have a sustainable monthly
income of $3,000 per month from your 100 converted donors.
Number of Gifts
One Time Donors ($50)
Monthly Donors ($360)
$5000 annually or $416 per month*
$36,000 annually or $3,000 per month
*It is unlikely that your monthly income from one-time donors will be
the same amount each month since a large percentage of one time gifts
come in during specific times of the year, such as during year-end.
GOAL: Boost Your Donor Retention Rate
Every nonprofit wants long-term supporters who continue to donate to
their cause. Organizations that create and manage their monthly giving
programs through DonorPerfect have an average monthly donor retention
rate of 74.6%. Compare that with the 28.1% average retention rate of
one-time donors, and you’ll understand why a monthly giving program
helps you keep your existing donors. Having donors join your monthly
giving program means you’ll have to spend less time acquiring new
Give Your Monthly Giving Program an Advantage
DonorPerfect Payment Services for Monthly Giving streamlines the
process of running your monthly giving program. So you can worry less
about cash and focus more on your mission.
DonorPerfect automatically processes monthly gifts the day they are
due, so those gifts immediately become revenue you can put to use.
GIft data is available right in your donor’s record without the need
for any imports.
With Account Updater, recurring donor payment account information
seamlessly updates in your system when it changes. You won’t need to
chase down expired credit cards!
DP Online Forms offers unlimited Monthly Giving Forms that are
optimized for better conversion rates.
Your donation forms come with the highest level of fraud protection.
DonorPerfect never stores sensitive credit card and bank information
so your supporter’s financial data is safe.
Any size organization can start building a recurring donor program, but your pace of growth depends on your commitment and resource investment. Start by designating a team member or a small team to “own” monthly giving at your organization. They should champion collaboration with the many departments that interact with your program and foster a sense of accountability.
Name Your Monthly Giving Program
Your monthly giving program is a way for donors to connect to your mission and see themselves as part of your community. Naming your monthly program is a vital component to creating that sense of belonging that donors crave. Give your monthly giving program a name that has longevity and that donors will be proud to be a part of.
Decide How to Measure Monthly Giving Program Success
How will you know that your monthly giving program is successful? Define your program’s specific goals and objectives as they fit into your entire fundraising strategy. Determine what you want to accomplish through your monthly giving program and how it will impact your mission. Then, you can look at measuring the success of achieving that goal, such as how much money you need to raise to accomplish it. Here are some key metrics to build program goals around:
Number of monthly donors
Monthly gift revenue
Average monthly gift amount
Donor retention rate
Monthly giving gift upgrades
Donor attrition rate
Donor lifetime value
DonorPerfect can help calculate, track, and display these metrics for you.
What will you offer to donors to incentivize them to join your monthly giving program? Your supporters give to you because they like your mission, but they also want to belong to a greater community. What benefits can you offer that will connect them to your cause and make them feel appreciated? Here are five ways:
Provide tangible items like calendars, car stickers, and t-shirts that show monthly donors that they are valued partners with your organization.
Offer monetary rewards, such as discounts to events, merchandise, or sponsorship packages, to promote continued donor loyalty.
Host member-only events, lunch with your Executive Director, and behind-the-scenes tours that provide another level of engagement with the exclusivity that monthly supporters will appreciate.
Create segmented communications for your monthly program partners that include dedicated newsletters, periodic updates on the programs they support, and access to webcasts.
Send heartfelt and authentic thank-yous like hand-written letters and personal phone calls from executives or board members. These help constituents feel appreciated and know that their gift matters.
Brand Your Monthly Giving Program
Your monthly giving program’s name, goals, and benefits help to define why your donors should give monthly. These things work to convince donors that monthly giving is a better option than a single one-time donation. By branding your monthly giving program with a tagline, logo, key messaging, and other components, you’re unifying your communications about your program. Branding reinforces the results that your monthly donors are helping to make possible.
Setting Up Your Monthly Giving Program to Accept, Enroll and Process Monthly Gifts
How do you set up a Monthly Giving Program? To run a successful monthly giving program, you'll need to accept recurring payments, enroll donors in your monthly giving program, and regularly process your monthly gift payments. You'll also need to send thank you receipts for your monthly gifts. DonorPerfect's affordable software packages offer monthly giving program management features that ease any administrative burdens on your team. DonorPerfect's tools make it easy to manage your monthly giving program.
How to Accept Recurring Payments
Before your supporters can sign up for monthly giving, you'll need an online donation tool that offers recurring gift options and will process monthly payments automatically. DonorPerfect Payments offers donors a way to make recurring payments online using their credit card or bank account. Once donors elect to participate in your program, and their payment information is entered the first time, they won't have to remember to write checks or renew their pledge each month. Monthly Giving payments will be processed automatically according to a schedule you set. DonorPerfect also updates all your important data like General Ledger (GL) Codes, Solicitation Codes, Campaign names, plus custom fields in your donor's gift record for reporting and tracking.
Every supporter in your monthly giving program first needs to elect to participate. They can do this in several ways:
Use your online donation form. (RECOMMENDED)
Submit a signed pledge card in response to a direct mail solicitation.
Donate in-person via DP Mobile
Request your staff to select “Monthly” on their behalf over the phone.
Use an Online Form to Collect Recurring Payments
The best way to enroll donors in your monthly giving program and collect recurring donations is to use an online donation form that accepts credit and debit cards and ACH (e-check) payments. When using an online form, pledge collection is automatic. This means all of your pledges are paid in full, on time, every pledge period, providing predictable cash flow. If your supporter's credit card data expires or gets updated, DonorPerfect's Account Updater will sync with your payment processor to keep account information current. No more chasing down pledge payments!
How are payments in your monthly giving program collected each month and added to your bank account? Most organizations have Automatic Processing enabled for their monthly gifts. Using Automatic Processing, you don't have to remember to go into the Monthly Giving module to process payments once a month. DonorPerfect will check to see which pledges in your Monthly Giving program are due and process them for you every day. Pledges due for the day (based on their start date) will be automatically processed at 5 AM EST, including holidays and weekends. If you prefer to process payments manually, you also have the option to do a one-time batch to process any payments during a specific time period.
Should you thank your monthly giving donors every month? Yes! You should always thank your monthly donors, preferably within 24 hours of processing their gift. While your thank you letter to monthly donors will include much of the same things a regular donor thank you includes, there are a few key differences. First, be sure to specifically mention the special status that your donor has with you as a result of being one of your monthly partners. Your supporters should know that you value them and their role as a monthly partner. Second, describe the long term impact that their recurring gift has over the term of their commitment. If they've partnered with you to feed families in your community, highlight how many families their monthly gift helped to feed and any progress towards your long term goals. They'll see how their gift is making an impact and how their continued contributions are vital to your mission's success. Remember, your monthly thank you emails or letters work to establish a long term relationship with your donors and lay the groundwork for any future upgrade asks.
How to Get Donors to Join Your Monthly Giving Program
How can you get donors to join your monthly giving program? Start by making it as easy as possible for supporters to find monthly giving program information on your organization’s website. Suggest appropriate monthly giving levels that are within reach for your donor base. Finally, target supporters within your existing donor pool that are likely to donate and ask them to join your program.
Add Monthly Giving Program Information To Your Website
If supporters don’t know you have a monthly giving program, how can they join it? Use your organization’s website to share information about your monthly giving program and promote it to donors. These website updates will grow your monthly giving program.
Add a Dedicated Monthly Giving Program Web Page
Give your Monthly Giving program more visibility with a dedicated Monthly Giving page on your website.
How much should you ask for when soliciting monthly gifts? Start small and ask low to get growing. By asking for a lower amount, your monthly giving program will welcome donors of all incomes, many of whom will eventually increase their monthly giving amount. For example, if you’re a membership organization, you can encourage members who typically pay for a $50 yearly membership upfront to join as $10 monthly members with no end date of membership. By doing so, you double their annual contribution and keep them as lifelong givers. The goal is to set your initial monthly giving asks low to get donors into your program using realistic ask amounts.
Erica Waasdorp, author of Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant, recommends using one-third of your average annual gif as your initial monthly ask. Our data shows that the current median of a one-time gift is $50, so in this example, the initial monthly giving ask should be $17 a month. Use DonorPerfect’s Gifts by Date Report to determine your average donation size. Apply a filter to this report if you want to know the average donation size for specific segments of donors. When you send out your appeals, tailor your monthly giving asks to each donor segment.
Where To Find Monthly Giving Donors
The best place to find potential monthly giving program participants is within your existing donor base. These donors know your organization and are already interested in your mission. They’ve given before and are likely to give again. Erika Waasdorp recommends looking for donors with these characteristics among donors that have given in the last year:
Donated $100 or less to your organization
Given three or more times to your organization
Given by credit card
Typically donate in small amounts
Find these donors using the Donors by Giving Level Report. It breaks out which donors are contributing at different giving levels and lists their most recent gift date.
How to Ask Donors to Join Your Monthly Program
Now that you know which donors to target and how much to ask them for, you’re ready to spread the word about your recurring donor program. Our Monthly Giving Marketing kit will show you how to position your monthly giving program for visibility and success. This comprehensive guide will help you attract new monthly donors and retain existing ones through awareness and engagement. You’ll learn how to:
Set up your monthly donor marketing plan
Write marketing copy donors will notice
Promote your Monthly Giving Program through email, direct mail, and social media
Segment your monthly donors to understand their giving patterns
Engage monthly donors personally and make them an integral part of your overall communications plan
You've done the work to gain donors for your monthly giving program. How do you keep your recurring donors from canceling? The actions you take to acknowledge their gifts and make them feel valued from day one can help determine whether donors stop giving or not.
Why Do Monthly Donors Stop Giving?
Just as one-time donors stop giving for more than one reason, the same is true for monthly givers. Many times, it is a combination of several different factors. Here are some of the most common reasons monthly donors stop giving:
Their financial circumstances have changed/can't afford to donate.
They weren't thanked for their donation.
They don't feel like their gift is being used appropriately.
They don't know how their donation is being used or the impact it has.
They think you don't need their gift.
They are giving to another, more visible cause.
Their payment information changed or expired.
Every organization differs as to the main reason why supporters stop participating in their monthly giving program. To learn more, you'll need to get to know your donors better.
Get To Know Your Monthly Giving Donors
The best way to predict what your monthly supporters want from your program is to find out more about them. A survey can provide you with valuable feedback that will strengthen your recurring giving strategy. Surveys are also a great way to get supporters engaged with your mission and show that you value their opinions. Consider asking some or all of these questions to find out how well you're meeting your monthly givers' expectations.
How familiar are you with the goals of our monthly giving program?
Why did you decide to become a monthly partner?
How easy or difficult was it to join the monthly giving program?
Would you recommend joining as a monthly partner to others? If so, why?
How much of an impact do you feel your monthly donation makes?
How likely are you to continue donating as a monthly giver?
How often do you want to hear from our organization about monthly giving program progress?
How do you prefer hearing about our organization's fundraising activities (email, phone, mail, social media, website, text me, other)
Are you interested in learning more about the other causes we support at our organization? (List them)
Do you have any questions or concerns about our monthly giving program?
Survey feedback can help you discover why donors stop giving to your monthly giving program and how you can improve your relationships to keep this donor base loyal. You can also uncover why they joined your monthly giving program. Using DonorPerfect's Online Forms you can easily customize unlimited forms and surveys and have feedback data stored in your donor's record
After you spend time soliciting supporters to join your recurring giving program, you want to make sure they stay. How can you retain your monthly giving donors? Set a goal to keep as many monthly donors as possible by following these five best practices.
1. Consistently thank your monthly giving donors
The key to retaining any donor is to thank them. Acknowledging your monthly donors is even more critical since they've made a long term commitment of giving to your organization every month. Thank them consistently and for the reasons they've joined. You also need to thank supporters using their preferred communication channel, so if you're unsure what that is, ask them.
With DonorPerfect, you have a built-in Receipting feature to send a personalized letter and email receipts that automatically respect a donor's preferred communication channels. You can also set up reminders to send your receipts on time.
2. Keep engagement going if donors can no longer afford to donate.
Sometimes, a donor's financial circumstances will change, and they can no longer afford to donate. While you can't change their situation, there are a few things you can do to maintain your long term relationship with these donors. By doing so, they'll be more likely to give again when in the position to do so. Your stewardship plan for donors facing financial hardships should:
Lower the minimum donation amount for your monthly giving program. A smaller donation is better than no donation at all.
Add no-cost ways for your supporters to stay engaged, such as volunteering, or participating in crowdfunding campaigns.
Segment these supporters so that they don't get solicited as often as other constituents.
3. Show monthly givers how their donation makes a difference
Monthly supporters expect frequent updates as to where their donation is going and how it's making a difference for your mission. It's necessary to show your supporters that their gift matters and exactly how it helps make your programs possible. In your updates, show supporters how their funds are being spent and include stories from your program recipients to build connections that translate donations into action.
4. Reaffirm the value of participating in your monthly giving program.
Head off donation fatigue by reaffirming the benefit that donors receive from participating as a monthly giving partner. Provide exclusive content only available to monthly donors that provides behind the scenes insight into your organization and its programs. Also, be transparent about your organization's needs and challenges and include your monthly partners into the search for solutions. Keep in mind some supporters may not want extra information, so make sure you're respecting communications preferences and provide an easy way to opt-out of your email list.
5. Keep your donor's credit card account information updated
Don't lose monthly donations due to incorrect credit card account information. DonorPerfect's Account Updater swiftly and seamlessly updates recurring donor payment account information, such as expiration date changes, account number changes, and account closures, in your system when it changes.
Your Complete Monthly Giving Communications Kit
Get a jump on your monthly donor communications with our pre-written, proven templates. Designed with spotlighting impact in mind, The Monthly Giving Communications Template Kit offers three program strategies with templates to match, like:
Email, social media, and phone/video chat promotions
Monthly donor thank-you templates
A monthly giving program webpage template
Use these templates to kick off your retention strategy and start communicating the incredible impact your community members can have as monthly donors.
The 4 Best Ways to Grow Your Monthly Giving Program
You’ve started a monthly giving program. Now what? How can you attract new monthly donors and get current donors to increase their monthly gift? Start by keeping the existing monthly donors already in your program. Retaining existing donors pays big dividends by maintaining a steady stream of revenue. It also helps build momentum for other supporters to join. You’ll recruit more new donors to join your program when you make it easy for supporters to find information about monthly giving on your website, social media sites, and other materials. Keep program costs down and increase ROI by automating as many monthly giving program administrative functions as possible. Finally, grow giving levels by reaching out to your most engaged monthly donors to see if they’d be willing to upgrade their existing gifts.
How can you grow your Monthly Giving Program? There are four best ways to increase the revenue from your monthly giving program:
Set a goal to keep as many monthly donors as possible by following a few best practices:
Consistently thank your monthly giving donors using their preferred communication method.
Discover why monthly donors stop giving and work to avoid those pain points.
Survey supporters to learn more about why they joined your monthly giving program and what they want out of it.
Keep engagement going if your monthly partners can no longer afford to donate. Offer no-cost ways for these supporters to stay involved.
Reaffirm the value of participating in your monthly giving program.
Show monthly givers that their donation makes a difference using powerful images and videos.
Head off donation fatigue by pointing out the benefits that donors receive from becoming a monthly giving partner.
Review the Monthly Donor Stewardship section of this Resource Center for advice on how to keep your monthly donor base loyal.
2. Reduce the Cost of Administering Your Monthly Giving Program
Is your monthly giving program information easy to find and join? Or does your staff spend a lot of time directing supporters on how to sign up and find program updates? Reduce the administrative costs for your monthly giving program by automating as many processes as possible:
Add a dedicated landing page on your website that tells supporters how to join your monthly giving program and provides program updates.
Don’t leave monthly donations unclaimed. DonorPerfect offers automatic processing to ensure all donations are processed and added to your organization’s bank account according to a schedule you set.
Give donors one less decision to make and remove barriers to joining your program by pre-selecting recurring donations by default on your online donation forms.
Don't lose monthly donations due to incorrect or expired credit card account information. Keep payment information current with Account Updater.
With an easy way to sign up for monthly giving in place on your website, it's time to spread the word to potential participants. Promote your program to supporters within your existing donor pool that are likely to donate and ask them to join your program. Here are a few ways to promote your monthly giving program:
Hold an event to ask supporters to make a monthly pledge to your Capital Campaign or other monthly giving projects.
Equip your Board to reach out to specific donors to ask them to partner with your organization every month.
Did you know that as many as 1 in 4 donors would give you more money if you called them and asked? Hold a phone fundraiser to solicit monthly donations.
Ask businesses that are event sponsors to consider financially supporting your organization as monthly givers.
Make monthly giving an option on your regular direct mail pledge cards or your online donation form.
Share monthly giving impact stories with your social media followers and ask them to join your program.
Time your monthly giving appeal to coincide with when constituents are looking to make a difference such as in response to a crisis or in January.
4. Ask Monthly Donors to Upgrade Their Gifts Annually
Grow your monthly giving program by asking your existing monthly donors to upgrade their gifts. If you’ve built a good relationship with your donors and consistently update them on the impact of your monthly giving program, then you should ask them to increase their annual gift. Ask within 10-12 months of when they first gave monthly. Use DonorPerfect's Contact Manager to remind you yearly to reach out to your donors to request an upgraded gift. (BONUS: You can even have DonorPerfect add this to your Gmail, Apple, Yahoo, Outlook, or Outlook Online calendar. ) If supporters aren’t able to upgrade their monthly gift, consider asking for an additional one-time donation or for them to include you in their legacy planning as an alternate way to boost overall annual giving.
Another way to increase the overall annual gift amount from an existing monthly giving donor is to ask them to check if their employer matches charitable gifts. Matching gifts are an easy way for your donors to double the impact of their monthly giving contributions.Double the Donation, one of our DPConnect partners, maintains a database of companies that match donations from their employees to nonprofits. Add their donation matching checker to your form’s Receipt Page or on a dedicated matching gift page on your website. You can also embed the donation matching checker in your thank you note, annual tax receipt emails, or send a separate follow-up email about matching gifts.
Take Your Monthly Giving Program to the Next Level
Learn how you can promote and grow your monthly giving program with our Monthly Giving Communications Template Kit. We'll show you how to position your monthly giving program for visibility and success with proven strategies and templates.