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How to Get and Keep Recurring Gifts for Nonprofits

Every nonprofit fundraiser has probably wished from time to time that they had a magic wand they could use to raise more money for their critical mission. With a flick of the wrist, each direct mail appeal would surpass its goal, and the board would be delighted! While we can’t hand you a magic wand, this blog provides tools for your fundraising toolbox that can help secure recurring donations for nonprofits. Once you have a recurring gift or monthly giving program, it can feel like magic, as recurring donors give more and are less likely to lapse.

The good news is that securing recurring gifts can be done without constructing a program from scratch. Nonprofits can build upon existing giving programs by adjusting the donation letter, pledge card design, and online giving pages. Donors are more likely to choose recurring donation options with these small changes.

Why Recurring Donations Matter

If your nonprofit doesn’t already offer recurring giving options, it might seem overwhelming, but you should know that 57% of donors are already enrolled in recurring gifts. A stunning 94% of those recurring donors prefer to give monthly, while only 3% prefer to give annually.

With a “set it and forget it” mentality, just like subscribing to their favorite streaming service, these donors are less likely to lapse. Less lapsing means higher donor retention rates!

As nonprofit organizations move away from organization-centric toward more donor-centric giving programs, monthly recurring gifts can help donors. We know donors have busy lives, and setting a monthly donation helps them support the causes they care about with less time commitment.

When it Comes to Recurring Giving Programs – Fix What You Already Have

Before nonprofits launch a new recurring giving program, they must first fix existing fundraising efforts. Take time to review and optimize direct mail appeals, pledge card design, and online donation pages.

Direct mail appeal letters perform best when you ignore all those rules your high school English teacher taught you! Use ‘ugly letters’ 2-4 pages long. Don’t be afraid to bold, italicize, and underline words and sentences to highlight important parts of the letter. Indent paragraphs to make the letter easier to read. Personalize paragraphs wherever possible – personalization should go beyond just the salutation.

Nonprofits should work with a print house that can help segment each mailing. Segmentation will allow you to insert a particular line about recurring giving for donor segments this is appropriate for.

Personalization and donor segmenting should also be used in the pledge card. The best pledge cards use simple designs and have personalized ask strings for every donor. Check out the Ultimate Guide to Fundraising Pledge Cards to learn how to design a pledge card that is easy for the donor to fill out and easy for your nonprofit organization to process.

An automated tool like AskGenius can help fundraisers set suggested donation amounts for each donor and break these down into monthly giving amounts for recurring donations. Pledge cards with ascending amounts and checkboxes work best for most donors. Keep in mind that a pledge card with an open-ended ask creates a better giving experience for major donors.

Donation pages should have a meaningful picture and copy, including affirming bullet points to inspire support. Create several different donation pages with donation amounts set for specific groups of donors and use unique URLs to funnel donors to the best page for them. A tool like can help achieve this. For guidance on how to set up segmented donation pages, check out slides 19-23 from AskGenius’ “Recurring Gifts – How to Get Them and Keep Them” webinar.

Donation pages must be set up to accept recurring donations online. If your website does not offer this, change your donation page to include this option.

By enhancing existing direct mail and online giving campaigns with recurring gift options, your nonprofit will soon see the benefits. You will see more funds coming in each month and fewer lapsing donors. Add stellar donor stewardship plans for monthly donors and you will be on your way to an outstanding donor retention rate.

Recurring donations for nonprofits can help elevate entire fundraising strategies and impact nonprofit missions. By implementing recurring gift options, nonprofits can create a reliable income stream and provide donors with a convenient way to support their cause. Nonprofit professionals should also focus on donor stewardship plans to ensure their monthly donors feel appreciated and valued.

Check out this webinar to access more detailed insight into writing the best direct mail appeal letters. And if you are ready to learn more about personalized ask strings and a tool to make this strategy easier for fundraising staff to accomplish, request an AskGenius demo today. Personalizing your ask strings can help foster deeper connections and encourage donors to increase their contributions. Educating yourself on effective direct mail appeal letters and implementing automation tools like AskGenius can help maximize the success of your organization.

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