Skip to Main Content

How to Craft the Perfect Recurring Donation Message (+7 Examples)

12 min read
May 07, 2024
Alex Huntsberger
A woman leaning against a wall with a palm tree and the beach in the background drafting a recurring donation message on her notepad.

Nonprofit giving is down across the board, and it’s been trending that way for years. But did you know that recurring donors—ones who set up regular, scheduled gifts to their favorite nonprofits—buck this trend?

It’s true! And it’s why crafting the perfect recurring donation message that resonates with your supporters could be the key to securing your nonprofit’s financial future. Here are some best practices, strategies, and examples you can use to start crafting your message today. 

Understanding the Impact of Recurring Donations

To gain a full picture of how recurring donations (and the donors who make them) are impacting the nonprofit landscape, we dug into the data from our very own Neon CRM to produce The Recurring Giving Report: Data-Backed Insights for Sustainable Generosity

This report is based on over 100,000 donors who gave to more than 2,000 nonprofits. To get a real sense of recurring giving trends, we studied donations made over a five-year period, from 2018 to 2022. Here’s what we found …

Recurring giving is up—way up! Over that five-year span, revenue from recurring gifts increased by 144%, recurring donor bases grew by 127%, and the average recurring donor stuck around for a hair under 8 years—with a donor retention rate at a whopping 78%. 

When we write that recurring donors are the future, those data points explain why. Recurring donors not only give your nonprofit a chance to create steady, reliable revenue streams, but they are also the kinds of deeply engaged supporters who will serve as the engine for your mission.

Want to learn more (way, way more) about the state of recurring donations for nonprofits? Download the full report! 

What Are the Elements of a Great Recurring Donation Message?

Okay, let’s get down to brass tacks: You aren’t going to be able to create recurring donors out of whole cloth. You’re going to need to nurture and engage your existing donors with the goal of eventually converting them to recurring donors who set up scheduled gifts.

The message you send to your donors asking for a recurring donation is the hinge point. It’s hugely important that you get this step right.

So what should you do? Obviously, there’s no simple recipe for this kind of messaging. But there are some common best practices that all good recurring donation messages have in common. Those elements are:

  • Clarity and Simplicity: Clearly explain the benefits of recurring donations, avoiding complex language. Especially be mindful of industry or expert jargon that would be familiar to you as a professional but would be strange or off-putting to someone who doesn’t work in this field. Focus on helping the donor understand why this is a good option for them.

  • Personalize Your Message: The more you can speak to the specific experience of any given donor, the better. This could mean using tokens to pull data on past donations into your message or crafting individual emails for each member of your potential monthly donor segment. 

  • Be Specific About Impact: Help your donor visualize the real-world impact that their recurring gift would make. Ignore big numbers (this gift will help us feed 10,000 people this year) in favor of individual stories (your gift will help us feed Paul once a week).

  • Appeal to Their Emotions: Starting a new recurring gift is a deeply emotional decision. The Recurring Giving Report found that gratitude, love, and remembrance were some of the most common emotions that drove the decision to become a recurring giver. 

  • Speak to Their Identity: Our AI analysis of donor sentiment for The Recurring Giving Report also found that many gifts were directly tied to the donor’s identity, with factors like age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and disability playing a large role. One way to appeal to a donor’s sense of identity is to give your monthly giving program a fun name.

  • Lead With Gratitude (and Close With It, Too): Your messaging should let donors know how much you appreciate them, helping set the stage for their next donation. Once they schedule their recurring gift, make sure you send them a personalized thank-you (think a handwritten note or letter) to fully express your gratitude. 

  • Include the “How”: For a donor who says “yes” to your message, making this kind of scheduled gift may be new to them. Make sure you tell them how to set up a recurring gift on your donation page. (Hopefully, this will be a minor lift, as your form will make this process easy for them.)

Apply all of these elements to your recurring donation message, and you should see your success rates improve. In the next section, we’ll cover some strategies you can use to up those rates even further.

4 Strategies to Enhance Your Recurring Donation Message

When encouraging donors to make recurring gifts, you should always remember that what works best for another organization’s supporters might not work as well for your audience. 

So, while we’re going to lay out some additional strategies you can employ to make your recurring donation message even more effective, we’re also going to discourage you from treating these as a recipe for success.

Instead, think about them as more like a buffet that you can pick and choose from to create the perfect strategy! 

1. Segment Your Audience

Okay, having said all that, we’re pretty certain this particular strategy works for everyone. 

Different types of donors respond to different kinds of messages. Elements like how long someone has been donating, what programs they support, or even where they live can all affect what types of appeals speak to them. 

Donor segmentation is the science (or maybe it’s the art) of using these attributes to group your supporters together into “segments.” 

By using your CRM to create individual donor segments, you can craft recurring donation messages that speak directly to those groups. 

You can even go a step further and create targeted donation pages for each segment!

2. Offer Social Proof

“Social proof” is a psychological concept that describes how people are more likely to take an action if they see other people doing it and having success. 

In fundraising, social proof means sharing testimonials and stories from existing donors to demonstrate the community’s engagement and encourage others to join.

Collect and share testimonials from your current recurring donors about why they chose to support your organization on a recurring basis. This is an area where video testimonials can be particularly impactful.

You can also highlight the collective achievements of your donor community, such as reaching fundraising milestones or enabling specific projects, to show the power of their combined support.

Is It Time for a New CRM?
Is It Time for a New CRM?

3. Use a Multi-Channel Approach

Much in the same way that different kinds of donors respond to different kinds of messages, there’s also going to be a lot of variance in how your recurring donors want to hear from you.

That’s why you should utilize a variety of communication channels to reinforce your message and reach donors where they are most active. 

Three of the most popular channels are emails, social media, and direct mail—and each one comes with its own specific strengths:

  • Email: Craft targeted email campaigns that speak directly to different segments of your audience, utilizing segmentation and personalization to increase engagement.
  • Social Media: Use your social media platforms to share impactful stories and updates, engage with followers in real time, and run targeted ads to attract new monthly donors.
  • Direct Mail: Don’t underestimate the power of a well-crafted physical letter or postcard, especially for standing out from the digital-first pack and adding personal touches like handwritten notes.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of calling your recurring donors on the phone to say “thank you.”

4. Offer Incentives

Listen, we all would like to pretend that we don’t love merch so much, that getting a free t-shirt from our favorite nonprofit doesn’t give us a real thrill. 

But we can’t. Merch rules. 

Try offering small tokens like t-shirts, mugs, or tote bags to new or upgrading recurring donors. Even though you’ll likely be working with a limited budget, you should make sure that whatever merch you offer is of high quality. That item will reflect the value of your recurring donor’s commitment.  

According to Josh Kelly, PR Manager of the online apparel platform Bonfire, the most popular nonprofit apparel item (circa 2022) is far and away the simple yet stylish black t-shirt. The second most popular item is a hoodie, with top hoodie colors being black, sport gray, and dark heather. 

You could also offer a recurring donor recognition program, with incentives like listing donors on your website, featuring them in annual reports, or even creating a physical donor wall in your offices.

7 Examples of Recurring Donation Messages

When creating a recurring donation that speaks to your supporters, don’t be afraid to experiment. Even better, you can A/B test different messages to see which one is most effective.

To get you started, here are seven examples of effective recurring donation messages with insights into what makes them work. 

Example #1

“Join our monthly givers today to help us provide continuous support to those in need. Your monthly gift makes a big difference!”

Why it’s effective: This message is clear and underscores the ongoing impact of the donation, appealing to the donor’s desire to make a significant, sustained difference.

Example #2

“Become a part of our family of heroes with a scheduled gift that will save lives every day. Every contribution means another overdose prevention kit in action.”

Why it’s effective: The emotional appeal of being a hero and directly contributing to a vital cause, like preventing overdoses, creates a strong connection.

Example #3

“As a monthly donor, you’re our partner in change. Receive exclusive updates and see your contributions at work every month!”

Why it’s effective: Offering exclusivity and regular updates caters to donors’ needs for feedback and inclusion in the nonprofit’s journey.

Example #4

“Step up and stand with us. Your regular support helps us respond immediately to urgent needs without hesitation.”

Why it’s effective: It emphasizes the urgency and immediate impact of monthly donations, inspiring action.

Example #5

“Your monthly gift keeps our doors open and services available. Join our commitment circle today and make a lasting impact all year round.”

Why it’s effective: This message conveys the essential role of recurring donations in keeping operations running smoothly, appealing to a sense of commitment.

Example #6

“Every child deserves a chance. Your scheduled gift can provide ongoing education and hope to children who need it most.”

Why it’s effective: Focusing on a specific benefit (education for children) and the ongoing nature of the support personalizes the appeal and tugs at the heartstrings.

Example #7

“Be the backbone of our mission. Regular support from people like you makes our work possible. Let’s make a difference together.”

Why it’s effective: It builds a sense of community and shared goals, emphasizing the collective effort and the donor’s crucial role in it.

Want more great content like this?

Join our monthly newsletter community to get insights right in your inbox.

Sign me up!

Here’s How Donor Management Technology Can Help

Many of the techniques and strategies we’ve discussed in this article are going to be far more effective if you have a strong donor management solution in place. Let’s run down a few of the top ones:

  • Data Analytics: In order to understand your donors and what makes them tick, you need a system that will let you analyze your data effectively. Donor management software with powerful reporting and analytics features (like Neon CRM’s new Generosity Indicator) will help you unearth fresh insights about what your donors do (and don’t) respond to. 
  • Segmentation: If you have a donor management system that comes with built-in email communication capabilities, then you can easily create, edit, and employ custom donor lists with segmented recurring donor appeals for each one. 
  • Workflow Automation: Set up automated workflows within your recurring donor campaign that take time-consuming tasks off of your plate and give you more time to focus on building relationships with individual donors. 
  • Donation Pages: Donor management software will let you create special recurring donation pages with custom messaging. You can even create multiple recurring donation pages for different donor levels. Just make sure your solution doesn’t cap the number of forms you can make. 

Neon CRM is a system that does everything listed here—and a whole lot more. With email, events, volunteers, payments, grants, memberships, and donation forms all in one unified system, Neon CRM will help you unlock your donors’ full potential. 

To learn more about Neon CRM, join one of our 30-minute group demos. Just click the button below to find a session that’s right for you. We’ll see you there!

Elevate Your Strategy with the Recurring Giving Report

When creating a recurring donation message, remember to focus on impact, gratitude, and simplicity. If you can create a message that prioritizes all three while appealing to your donor’s emotions and identity, then you’ve crafted a message that will get results. 

But once you’ve got your recurring donor program up and running, how will you know how to measure success? Are there benchmarks for something like this? 

There are now! See how your nonprofit stacks up against other organizations in your sector—and download the full Recurring Giving Report for benchmarks and insights on nonprofits of all different sizes.

Projected Recurring Revenue

Monthly Revenue:


Yearly Revenue:


Performance Benchmarks

Your program’s performance:


Compared to $1234 average of Category Code

Right On Track

You’re doing a great job growing and expanding your recurring giving base. That means you’re well on your way to building a sustainable nonprofit!

Illustration of Genesis, from the One Bunch, in a crouched position

Join the discussion in our Slack channel on connected fundraising

Looking to become a more connected nonprofit leader?

Join 73,000+ of your peers getting industry news, tips, and resources straight to their inbox.