Fundraising involves a lot more than just collecting donations. A well-rounded fundraising plan involves a balance of engagement and "asks." To engage your nonprofit’s donors, diversify your income stream, and bring in a steady stream of income over the course of the year, consider adding monthly giving to your existing fundraising plan.
What is Monthly Giving?
What is monthly giving, exactly? Simply put, this fundraising technique, which is also called recurring giving by nonprofits, is when a donor gives once per month or multiple times per year. In doing so, your donors remain connected with your cause throughout the year, and they’re reminded of you every time they make a gift and receive a donation receipt. At the same time, you can expect to receive a set amount of money from month to month.
The Many Benefits of Monthly Giving
Once you begin collecting monthly donors, either through a standalone monthly giving program or just a simple monthly giving option, your nonprofit will almost immediately begin to notice these five benefits:
- You Have an Engaged Donor Base: For starters, monthly givers quickly become an organically engaged donor base. They’re not just opening their wallets every month; they’re also collecting their donation receipt, reading the stories you give them, clicking on links to learn more, and getting involved as volunteers and advocates. As these engagement experiences build, they help retain your donor in the months and years to come.
- You Stay Top-of-Mind: With so many nonprofits looking to fund their organizations, it’s important to stand out. As your donor gives month after month, your mission stays at the top of their mind. Therefore, you’re not fighting for attention as much as you would have to if they only gave once a year or less.
- Your Financials are Steady: Whether your nonprofit operates on $100,000 per year or $1 million, financial stability is hard to maintain when a portion of your income comes from personal donations. But with monthly giving, you receive a steady stream of income.
- You Can Cut Costs: Recruiting new donors is substantially more expensive than retaining a donor. So as you capture monthly donations, you’re actually saving money you would otherwise be spending on donor recruitment.
- You Bring in More per Donor: The annual gift amount for a monthly giver is, on average, higher than the total annual gift for a one-time donor. In fact, Network for Good found that the average recurring donor gave 42% more over the course of the year.
Monthly Giving Options
There are two main ways to collect monthly gifts: adding a monthly giving option to your donation page or creating a standalone monthly donor program.
The easiest way to start collecting monthly gifts right away is to add a monthly gift option directly to your donation page. If you manage your own website and donation page, add this option right after you ask for the total gift. Otherwise, talk to your website programmer to get this added to your site. Organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of Canada and The Motherhood Collective give donors the option to give either one-time or monthly right on their website donation pages.
Creating an entire program around your monthly giving program is a more involved and expensive way to bring in monthly donations. A standalone program often requires a program name, separate website, and a dedicated staff member who is responsible for its management. Watsi, a nonprofit that provides crowdfunded healthcare support to families around the world, has what some in the industry consider a gold standard monthly giving program. They attract monthly donors by:
- Keeping a ticker with the number of monthly donors on their website
- Providing donors a client impact story with their donation receipt every month
- Processing the payment automatically every month so the donor doesn’t have to worry about making a phone call or submitting a payment online
Choosing one option or the other depends on your organization’s resources and capacity to handle an additional fundraising program.
Boost Your Monthly Giving Numbers
While giving your donors the opportunity to give monthly is a surefire way to start posting strong monthly giving numbers, there are other measures you can take to boost your efforts. If you really want to amplify your monthly giving results, follow these best practices:
- Segment Your Monthly Donors: Provide your monthly donors with content that’s different from your one-time donors, such as impact-related stories and personal thank you letters. This helps your monthly donors feel special and part of an exclusive group.
- Link Giving to Impact: What does a dollar (or more) do for the populations you serve? When possible, link a donor’s monthly gift directly to the impact it makes. If $10 provides 15 meals to a family in need, share this great news with your donors.
- Be Human: Allow your monthly donor to see that there are real, caring humans working behind the scenes at your cause. Give them your contact information, sign each correspondence with your name, and don’t just communicate as a member of your organization, but as a fellow supporter of a worthwhile cause.
Monthly giving is a smart way to diversify your nonprofit’s income, engage donors, and ultimately ensure a consistent stream of income for months and years to come.