Your roadmap to a strong monthly donor program

February 28, 2022 • 3 minute read

It’s not easy to build a robust monthly donor program — but it’s worth it. 

Think about what a commitment it is to donate every month. That passion and loyalty to an organization makes monthly supporters reliable sources of income, even in the lowest moments –  our recent COVID-19 survey showed that nonprofits that kept fundraising up during the pandemic often largely credited their monthly donors for that stability. These tips can help you build and sustain a monthly donor base that will fund your mission for years to come:

Build the infrastructure of a program

Before you switch all your digital ads to ‘give monthly’ asks, you need to prepare. With a deeper look at the most dedicated of your existing supporters — for example, look at donors who have been on your list 5+ years or those who give more than twice a year — you’ve got your first prospect audience and clues for finding more people like them. An analysis of what content they interact with and what appeals have converted them can be incredibly useful when coming up with your case for monthly giving. 

Next, focus on that case for giving. How can you make your monthly giving program both essential and exciting? This needs to feel different from your one-time donation asks because the question isn’t as much about why you need their donation now, but why you need it month-after-month. Sometimes developing a branded monthly program can help convey that case for giving, like charity: water did with The Spring:

Make the ask

Once you can clearly articulate why a supporter should give monthly and have indicators of who is most likely to convert, it’s time to ask! There are a few ways to make the most of a monthly ask:

  1. Create multi-channel campaigns. Remember, giving monthly is a big commitment — some supporters will need time to mull over your ask. One email will probably not be enough, but if that email introduces the idea and later an ad convinces them, there’s a much better chance of conversion. By telling the same story to the same people across multiple channels, you can let them consider and be convinced on their own time and in their own way.
  2. Optimize your website for monthly giving. From a lightbox on the homepage to call-outs on high-traffic pages, your website is full of opportunities to convert to monthly all along the donor journey. Plus, donation platforms like FundraiseUp have out-of-the-box solutions that integrate monthly upsell seamlessly into the check-out process.
  3. Give them something back. We’ll dig into this more later, but making monthly donors feel appreciated is critical. Giving cool merch — everyone loves merch! — boosts the incentive to become a monthly donor quickly and that t-shirt or tote will remind them they are valued for months to come.
  4. Be bold. When do you see the biggest spikes in giving? For some organizations, it’s Giving Tuesday while for others, it’s a natural disaster or crisis moment where their organization is most critical. Devoting that moment to a monthly ask can raise funds not just in that moment, but for months and years to come. Make sure your case of giving ties the moment to the long-term need and you’ve got a great opportunity for prospective monthly donors.

Don’t “set it and forget it”

A donor signs up to give monthly and three months later, they’re reviewing their budgets and find a recurring donation they’d forgotten about. That’s an easy charge to cancel. But what if over those three months, they had been thanked and reminded of the impact they were having? They’re going to cancel that fifth streaming service instead.

Communications focused on retaining monthly donors are just as valuable as those that convert them. Show appreciation for your monthly donors with creativity and specificity so each one of them feels as valued in their 18th month as they did in their first.

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