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10 Tips for Monthly Giving Program Success

11 min read
March 15, 2024
Alex Huntsberger
person typing on a computer screen that shows revenue numbers

Creating a monthly giving program for your nonprofit will help increase total giving and promote financial stability—but it’s about more than just the numbers. A successful monthly giving program will also foster deeper relationships with your most dedicated supporters. And those are the people who can help take your nonprofit’s mission to the next level. 

In this article, we’ll lay out the basics of how monthly giving programs work, why they are important for nonprofits like yours, and how your organization can choose the right best practices to make your monthly giving program a success. Let’s get started!

What is a Monthly Giving Program?

Recurring givers are donors who’ve committed to donating set amounts to an organization on a regular basis. While these donors often want to give on a monthly basis, a recurring giving program should also include options for bi-monthly, quarterly, and even annual giving. 

The most common way for monthly donors to give is by automating a regular transaction with their debit or credit card. If the transaction isn’t automatic, donors will have to remember to make a donation every month. That’s a lot of work for them—and it’s even more work for your staff, who will be tasked with reminding them (and reminding them, and reminding them again). That being said, smaller nonprofits that are starting a monthly giving program should also include an option for donors (almost certainly older donors) who prefer to give by check. While it will mean more hassle for your staff—possibly a lot more hassle—it will likely be worth it.

Why is Monthly Giving Important?

You may want to create a monthly giving program for a few reasons. For one, monthly donors offer a lot of financial benefits for a nonprofit. On an annual basis, recurring donors give more than three times what new donors give. 

Aside from the clear revenue boost you’ll get from having a monthly giving program, the donors themselves have a higher retention rate than other types of donors. The Fundraising Effectiveness Project found that the retention rate for recurring donors in 2022 was three times higher than the retention rate for new donors. 

Monthly giving programs also help create financial stability for nonprofits. With a dedicated group of monthly (or quarterly, or annual) donors, you can more easily map out your programming and expectations for a given fiscal year. That will be a huge help to the communities you serve—and to your staff as well. 

Additionally, having a public monthly giving program provides your organization with credibility. For a new person researching your nonprofit, it shows that others in your community trust your organization’s ability to deliver on its mission. They will have faith that their donation has the power to make a difference if it’s in your organization’s hands.

diagram showing five benefits of a monthly giving program
diagram showing five benefits of a monthly giving program

10 Tips for a Successful Monthly Giving Program

Turning brand-new donors into recurring monthly donors always isn’t easy. You have to make a concerted effort to acquire and retain a donor who will commit to giving monthly. 

Creating a monthly giving program will help steward these donors and hold your organization accountable for maintaining relationships with them.

Make your monthly giving program a success by implementing these eight tried-and-true best practices.

1. Build Community

An important aspect of monthly giving programs is forming a community. Through branding, stewardship, and outreach, you can create a monthly giving program with a strong sense of community.  

Your monthly donors are an important part of your organization’s community, and you should treat them as such. In your emails to monthly donors, it is vital to show your gratitude and include personal touches that make them feel included, welcome, and appreciated. We have created a series of free Monthly Giving Program Email Templates that will help your team leverage expert advice to create emails that encourage monthly donors to keep on giving.

2. Give Your Program a Compelling Name

Every cool club or affinity group has a name. Your program should follow suit. A title for your recurring givers is an easy way to create common ground with your recurring donor base. Although the program’s name itself isn’t going to be the driving force behind donations, it’s a nice personal touch. 

One great example comes from PAWS Chicago, titled “Lifeline Monthly Giving Program.”

A screenshot of PAWS Chicago's website promoting their Lifeline Monthly Giving Program
A screenshot of PAWS Chicago’s website promoting their Lifeline Monthly Giving Program

3. Create a Donor Stewardship Plan

Build a special donor communications plan for stewarding your monthly givers, including welcomes, thank-you messages, prompt receipts, and donor-exclusive updates on the happenings at your organization.

4. Encourage Growth

Donors who are currently giving to your organization on a monthly basis will be your best advocates. They strongly believe in your mission and trust you to put their money to good use. 

Having current donors spread the word is a really solid way to build a donor base. 

But you want to make it as easy as possible for them. They are the pillars of your organization, and you don’t want to ask them to do too much work on your organization’s behalf for free. 

What you can do is write calls to action that they can share on social media or send via email to friends and family. You can even create a template they can use to create a peer-to-peer fundraiser.

By doing the writing for them, you can ensure your supporters share your message and mission the exact way you want them to. This also alleviates the obstacles that would make this a bigger ask. All they have to do is click send.

5. Run Multiple Targeted Campaigns

One way to market your monthly giving program is by branding it into multiple giving campaigns. 

If you are an arts nonprofit, for example, you might have several different classes and programs that need support. 

By marketing different programs to different segments of donors—sending some an email about your pottery class for adults while another segment receives messages about your filmmaking for kids program—you get donors excited about aspects of your mission that speak directly to them.

You can also target donors based on their giving frequency and their likelihood of becoming a monthly donor. 

Create a campaign specifically for your existing monthly donors, thanking them for their consistent giving, highlighting their impact, and asking them why they choose to be a part of your monthly giving program. This information can be extremely valuable in shaping your messaging to target potential monthly donors.

For prospective monthly donors, let your data lay the foundation for your campaign. Consider those who used to be recurring donors and those who currently donate on an almost monthly basis. 

Do you have donors who give a large amount a few times per year? Or donors whose giving history suggests they would be great candidates for monthly donations? Or volunteers who are particularly passionate about and active with your organization? 

These segments deserve their own targeted campaigns with messaging that’s meant just for them.

6. Use Up-to-Date Data

Implementing a donor portal can help alleviate donor losses due to credit card expiration. If your donors can update expiring payment methods themselves—and receive email reminders to do so—you can ensure you don’t lose donors due to clerical errors. A nonprofit CRM can help your data management efforts through automation.

If your CRM includes built-in fundraising tools and payment processing, like Neon CRM does, you may be able to automatically update some of your donors’ expiring payment methods. Neon Pay, for example, can automatically update a recurring donor’s card under most circumstances.

7. Designate a Point of Contact

Your program needs a single point of contact for donors. If any issues arise, having a person in the organization that donors can reach directly helps ensure you are keeping them happy. Just make sure they know how to get in touch with you!

8. Make Donation Frequency Clear

When it comes to creating your donation forms, there are practices that you can implement to encourage monthly donations. One of the best ones is to make the “monthly” option on your form the default option. According to a study from NextAfter, this increased recurring donor conversion by 366%! 

However, it is vital that you make it extremely clear on your donation forms whether a user is giving one time or monthly. Clarity and effective communication build trust. If your supporters are “tricked” into giving monthly, they will lose trust in your organization. 

To get around this, try setting the default frequency to monthly on one of your forms and linking to it every time you ask for recurring gifts or share public updates about your monthly giving program. Your standard donation form can still default to one-time gifts. You get the best of both worlds.

9. Emphasize the Program’s Impact

One way to encourage your supporters to join your monthly giving program is to highlight the tangible outcomes of monthly donations. Use a combination of storytelling and impact statistics to illustrate how helpful the consistency of monthly donations is for your organization. Talk to your current monthly giving program participants and include testimonials from them in your marketing materials.

Don’t be afraid to be honest with your donors—the monthly giving program not only makes the work you do possible, but it provides financial security and keeps the lights on, which further ensures that your mission is possible! 

You can take this a step further by allowing donors to earmark their donations for specific projects. You can add these different options to your donation form, or you can create individual forms for each project. 

While adding a bunch of individual forms to your website might cause confusion, they can be very handy for outreach campaigns where donors are provided with the exact link they need to contribute. 

Another way to do this is to customize donation forms with suggested amounts that illustrate what your nonprofit can accomplish with each amount. For example, a food pantry may want to share how many families they can feed at each giving level.

By offering financial transparency and a choice of initiatives to support, your nonprofit will curate a more engaged donor base who fully understands your mission, believes in your vision, and trusts you to provide tangible benefits to the communities you serve. 

To learn more about how donation form best practices can help donors follow through on their desire to give—and even encourage larger overall gifts—check out this helpful article.

10. Get Pointers from Your Peers

Hopefully, you’ve built relationships with other nonprofits, but if you haven’t yet, this is the perfect time to do so! Which organizations have a monthly giving program that you admire? Take a close look at what they’re doing and examine what makes their monthly giving program successful.

Once you’ve determined which elements of their monthly giving program you’d like to see in your organization, reach out to them. 

Has their monthly giving program always been thriving? If not, what challenges did they face, and how did they overcome them? What lessons can you extract from their experiences? Which strategies can you incorporate into your own monthly giving program?

There you have it—all the tools and tips you need to build an effective monthly giving program. If you want to dive deeper into monthly giving, check out our webinar with monthly giving expert Erica Waasdorp.

Neon CRM Can Help Boost Monthly Giving

When creating a monthly giving program, you want to get donors excited about all the ways their support can impact your mission. By giving your program a catchy name, tying dollars given to direct impact, and using up-to-date data, you can create a community of dedicated supporters and evangelists that will help your organization grow.

But before you launch your program, you should make sure your nonprofit CRM software has the capacity to handle it. And if you’re not sure that it can, you should definitely check out Neon CRM. It’s a full-suite donor management platform with unlimited donation pages, powerful analytics tools, email marketing and segmentation features, and workflow automation that will make implementing your monthly giving program a snap.

Want to learn more about Neon CRM? Check out one of our regularly scheduled group demos. You’ll get a comprehensive 30-minute walkthrough of the system—all with zero pressure to buy.

Infographic showing ten tips for a successful monthly giving program
Infographic showing ten tips for a successful monthly giving program

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