Blog / How to Increase Monthly Recurring Donations


While everyone who supports your cause is valuable, not all donors deliver equal value. Many non-profit organizations are beginning to assess the lifetime value of a donor to identify how much donors give over time and which types of donors provide the most financial support. While one-time donations are helpful, campaigns that increase monthly recurring donations have become a primary focus in many non-profit’s fundraising strategies.


Attracting a brand new donor can be up to 10 times more expensive than continuing to work with an existing donor. A 2017 study by Classy, a fundraising software platform, found that: 


  • Monthly recurring donors give up to 440% more over their lifetime than one-time donors.
  • The average lifetime value of a recurring donor is nearly $800, while one-time donors average less than $150.
  • Donor support typically lasts for at least 6 months and averages more than 1 year. 


While one-time donations help you move toward your single campaign goal, monthly donor programs are the lifeblood of many charities and go a long way towards increasing impact. Committed donors are also more likely to support multiple initiatives and their giving patterns can provide insights that help guide future programs.


Advantages of Recurring Donations


When establishing your fundraising strategy, keep monthly recurring donors at the center of your efforts. While corporate partners and grants are a way to get large one-time donations, these smaller monthly gifts from your supporters add up and can truly impact your bottom line. Regular monthly and annual donations means:


  • Increased financial support – Classy estimates that the average one-time donation is $50 while the average monthly recurring gift is $25. Even though the monthly gift amount is smaller, it quickly adds up. Based on these numbers, a single donor gives $300 in a year, instead of just $50.
  • Better planning -Because recurring donors are consistent, you’re better able to forecast the total funds you can raise each year. Using technologies for non-profits that track donations and provide key donor analytics is helpful in alerting you to any upwards or downwards trends in your giving projections so you can quickly reassess your current campaigns.
  • Better relationships with donors – A monthly communication plan lets you build ongoing relationships with your donors. You can express gratitude for their ongoing support, tell your organization’s story over time and share the difference that their support makes.


5 Tips to Increase Monthly Recurring Donations 


People are more inclined to give only once, but there are a number of tactics you can leverage to encourage people to become monthly recurring donors.


  1. Create a program identity. This might include give your program a name, designing a logo, developing a list of benefits and naming members. ASPCA Guardians and The Nature Conservancy Conservation Champions are two examples of this last item.
  2. Invest in technology. You need an infrastructure that makes it easy for donors to set up and control monthly gifts, and for you to collect them. Consider a system like DonorBox. You can easily embed a donation form on your website to enable monthly donations and even corporate matching. You can accept nearly any payment methods and collect valuable donor insights. 
  3. Promote your program. Make sure there is a clear call-to-action across your website to ‘Give Monthly,’ but don’t stop there.  You want to promote it in your email newsletters, staff email signatures, social media bios, etc. 
  4. Thank your donors. Immediately acknowledge first-time gifts and send a prompt digital thank you. Follow up with a physical thank you note or a call. Continue regular communications with an eye towards converting them to monthly supporters over time.
  5. Showcase impact. Large or small, all donations make a difference. Share stories about the people impacted and quantify your charity’s overall impact. Celebrate milestones on social media. Create videos that share the personal impact your charity is making in people’s lives. The more you share the great things you’re accomplishing, the more excited people will be to give. 




Make a Good First Impression with Donors


The average donor retention rate in the U.S. after the first gift is around 45 percent. Donors who do continue to give will typically do so because:


  • They resonate with your cause.
  • They believe your charity makes a difference. 
  • You bring your chary’s impact to live in a tangible way.
  • You regularly thank them for their support.
  • You ask for and listen to donor feedback.


Creating experiences that make donors feel like an important part of your cause can help convert one-time gifts to recurring donations, and increase retention rates among current monthly donors. These experiences start the moment someone is introduced to your charity. Whether it’s on social media, your website, a commercial or an encounter with your street fundraising team, people will often remember the first time they came into contact with your cause and how it made them feel. 


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