In the nonprofit field, it sometimes feels as though the work is never finished…and maybe it really isn’t. From mission to vision, there’s just too much that can be done, and it can be hard to leave work behind and go home at the end of the day. The demands of staff, beneficiaries, donors, and organization operations are all involved in the constant tug of war for time. The business of doing good requires certain character and dedication. Thankfully, derived methods from data analysis have revealed better business practices, including the recruitment of monthly donors, which will help optimize time management and operations.

Are you aware of how your donor retention numbers compare to national and international averages? Coaxing one-time gifts to recur is an opportunity to solicit an investment that benefits everyone. Avoid scripted outreach and relay the urgency of value through your own words and statistical evidence. International nonprofits have already flourished from their efforts to recruit monthly support; however, while American nonprofits may be late bloomers, successful anomalies give much incentive. For example, the Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch in Amarillo, Texas has been an organization in the USA since 1948. They’ve been gaining support by asking for the affordable pledge of $1 each month. This gift has made it possible for them to retain a couple of hundred of their original donors 55 years down the line! Taking into account that the average nonprofit donor retention rate is only around 40%, those are incredible numbers! On average, we only retain less than half of our donors year over year. After 55 years, retaining a few hundred donors is a huge accomplishment and their definitive distinction. Monthly $1 pledges over five decades illustrates the immeasurable value of loyal patronage from retaining supporters. Here are some techniques for retaining donors:

  1. Email Outreach
  2. Any type of new donor outreach and acquisition should include sponsorship requests for monthly gifts. Use your emails to invite donors to consider making their next gift a subscription donation. Shifting the culture of giving is a first step in changing the progressive trends we want to encourage in the industry.

  3. Default Your Giving Levels to Subscriptions:
  4. Convert your donation forms into asking for monthly donations instead of one time donations. Monthly gifts are more valuable in their lifetime than annual gifts. Initiating a subscription also gives your donors ‘donor inertia.’ Gifts in motion like to stay in motion. It’s easier and more profitable to keep a recurring donor and ask them to increase their gifts over time than to persuade a one time giver to return to you or give more. Additionally, evidence suggests that giving levels increases donation size by around 42%.

  5. Match Subscription Donations & Utilize Transparent Giving
  6. Network with local businesses to match monthly donor gifts.

    Example: “Every month that you pledge $60, this local business will pledge $60 with you, and here’s what your $120 will do together…”

    Inspire donors to set the bar within their community by using transparency to indicate the significance of their dollar.

  7. Construct Monthly Gifts Around Outcomes
  8. Use outcomes as the descriptor for monthly gifts! For example:

    $20/month: Classroom Supplies

    $40/month: Lunch for 3 Students

    $100/month: Transportation and Uniforms for 6 students

  9. Marketing Tool For Growth
  10. Instead of reaching out to one-time donors from previous years for another annual gift, try asking for subscription donations as an affordable upgraded option. If your 2016 average gift donation was $42 dollars, why not ask for $60 in 2017? Recruit a monthly gift of $5. Its a less aggressive scale to ask for gift upgrades. Asking for gifts earlier in the year gives you an opportunity to get year-long donor engagement and a head start for fundraising in the off season.
Equip your team with what it needs to really create lasting relationships. Happy Fundraising!