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How to launch a monthly giving program (free outreach templates!)

Start your nonprofit's monthly giving program and bring in consistent donations all year round using this easy step-by-step guide along with free outreach templates to get you started.

Rachel Ayotte
June 12, 2024
January 6, 2021
Nerd Mr Butter

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Every donation to your nonprofit is a cause for celebration, but for organizations looking to grow revenue consistently and sustainably, monthly giving programs should be on your radar.

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about monthly contribution programs. Learn about the benefits of monthly giving, examples of the best monthly donor programs, and how to launch your own campaign with the help of our free outreach templates.

What is monthly giving?

A monthly giving program empowers nonprofit donors to commit to giving a specific amount to a cause every month. Instead of making a one-time donation whenever they remember to, supporters make a consistent contribution as an automatic recurring payment, much like setting up auto-pay for a cell phone bill. 

Savvy nonprofits offer supporters a range of monthly donation amounts to choose from so they can give regularly in a way that matches their budget. You can also provide quarterly or annual enrollment, although 94% of recurring donors prefer giving monthly. Overall, the more options you provide, the wider the audience you can reach.

Why is monthly giving important?

Your organization needs a steady flow of donations all year. Donors need convenient and affordable ways to support your cause. Monthly giving programs are a win-win. 

Imagine your nonprofit's fundraising efforts as managing your household budget. One-time donations are like receiving unexpected cash on different occasions—birthdays, holidays, or random bonuses from work. These gifts always feel good, but you’re never sure if and when they’re coming. In other words, they’re not a completely reliable source of income. 

Monthly giving, a type of recurring donation program, is like having a steady paycheck. You know precisely when it's coming, and it covers all of your ongoing essential expenses, allowing you to plan and invest in the things that matter most to you. 

In the same way, monthly giving programs provide nonprofits with a consistent and dependable source of funds, freeing up organizations to:  

  • Reduce fundraising costs 📉 Monthly giving programs lessen the need for constant donor acquisition, which can be expensive. 
  • Increase impact 💛 The steady flow of funds allows nonprofits to maintain and expand their programs and initiatives.
  • Create deeper donor relationships 🤝 Supporters who donate monthly have a stronger connection with your nonprofit—and a higher donor retention rate—than one-time donors.
  • Budget better 💰With monthly giving, your nonprofit can more seamlessly manage expenses and programs.
  • Lower stress 😅 Monthly giving reduces the uncertainty of random, one-time donations.

Monthly giving introduces more sustainable funds, and it’s also quickly becoming a more popular option for donors. While one-time gifts fell by 5% in 2023, monthly giving rose by 6%, and recurring monthly giving accounted for 31% of all online revenue, an increase of 4% from the year before. 

Now is the ideal time to take action and grow your monthly giving program.

How do you encourage donors to give monthly? 

If it works for their budget, many donors prefer to give regularly—in fact, 45% of online donors are enrolled in a monthly giving program. Your community members get to support a cause they care about every single month in a way that feels effortless. 

To attract more supporters, highlight the benefits of giving monthly and discuss how easy it is to continue supporting your charity or organization on a regular basis.

If you’re unsure where to start, our free monthly giving outreach templates have everything you need to encourage your supporters to join in, whether you want to reach them on social media, by text message, or with good old-fashioned direct mail. 

How to launch a successful monthly giving program for nonprofits

Recurring giving feels good for everyone involved. These seven steps will help you start a monthly giving program you can feel proud of. 

Step 1: Assess your resources 🔎

Before you’re knee-deep in planning and outreach, check in with your board members or team leadership to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Be sure to discuss answers to essential questions like:

  • Do we have the time and resources to nurture recurring donors?
  • Do we have the capacity and funds to promote our program?
  • Who will take the lead? How often will they work on this project?

Step 2: Identify potential monthly givers 🧐

While most nonprofits first target their most loyal donors or those who already give several times each year, it’s critical to broaden your search, too. Your would-be monthly donors can be anywhere.

Here are some prime monthly giving prospects:

  • One-time donors who give less than $200 each year
  • Current donors who give three or more times each year
  • Long-term donors who have given in the past but didn’t give last year
  • Past board members, volunteers, and event attendees 

⚡ Pro tip: Tap a few passionate, influential supporters to recruit recurring donors for your program. Think of it as peer-to-peer fundraising but for monthly giving!

Step 3. Suggest giving levels 💸

The beauty of a recurring giving program is that most offer several options for donors, so supporters can choose the amount they want to contribute. This flexibility equals more funds for you and happier donors.

To help donors decide how much they want to give, nonprofit organizations should suggest a few different giving levels and a clear idea of what each gift amount provides. Here are some examples:

  • $10 per month covers healthy snacks for one class
  • $20 per month covers art supplies for one class
  • $40 per month covers STEM kits for one class

⚡ Pro tip: Another way to decide how much to ask for is to work backward. Look at your average online donation and then take 10–20% of that number. If your average gift is $75, then between $7.50 and $15.00 per month is an ideal figure to aim for.

Step 4. Brand your program 💛

Branding your program is a great way to make your donors feel special and emphasize the value of monthly giving. With higher retention rates and more dollars given over time, monthly givers deserve some recognition. 

The Red Cross, for example, calls its monthly donors “Champions” to elevate their role and make people feel like they’re making a more significant difference.

Not sure what to name your valued monthly donors? Here are a few ideas for monthly giving program names:

  • Acronyms: Humans Against Trafficking (HAT), People Protecting Our Parks (PPOP)
  • Mission-based: Peacekeepers, Sustainers, Protectors
  • Team members: Friends, Advocates, Allies, Sisters/Brothers
  • Alliteration: Literacy Leaders, Pet People, Hunger Heroes
  • Call to action: Save Our Oceans, Feed The World, Show You Care 

Step 5. Craft your appeal ✏️

Don’t make the mistake of adding a “make it a monthly gift” option to your online donation form and calling it a day. To captivate your community members, you need to craft a compelling appeal that motivates donors to step up their giving.

Just like writing an effective donation request letter, your monthly giving program should have a focused message that is:

  • Emotional 💛 Motivate donors to give with heartfelt messages (think impact stories!)
  • Easy to read 👀 Prioritize clarity and brevity
  • Simple ⭐ Include a prominent donate button so supporters know exactly where to give
  • Monthly-giving focused 🗓️ Emphasize how consistent funding helps make a more significant impact
  • Flexible ⚖️ Offer multiple recurring gift-giving levels and payment methods

⚡ Pro tip: Providing ACH (aka bank transfers) as a payment method makes recurring giving even smoother. Rather than credit card payments, which frequently require updating expired cards, ACH donations are directly deposited monthly from the donor’s bank account. Plus, payment processing fees from ACH are typically lower than other options. 

Step 6. Promote your program 📣

Create a marketing and donor engagement plan solely for your monthly giving program. Within your plan, consider how you can highlight new monthly giving options in each of your individual fundraising efforts.

Think of the channels that your donor base already knows and loves, including:

  • Social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
  • Text messaging
  • Email
  • Direct mail 
  • Your website 
  • Phone calls

Step 7. Prepare your team 😀

Finally, set yourself up for a smooth rollout by educating your staff and volunteers on the ins and outs of your program well before launch day.

Make sure everyone feels comfortable with all the details, such as: 

  • Monthly giving levels and options
  • Payment methods
  • How to change giving frequency

Step 8. Show appreciation and follow up 🙏

Create a plan to engage with, thank, and retain your donors in the long run. After all, saying “thank you” on a regular basis is one of the easiest ways to secure their loyal support.

This strategy should align with your overall fundraising strategy and probably won’t look too different from your usual donor stewardship, which may include:

  • Segmentation ✂️ Create custom donor segments for your monthly givers so they’re always receiving targeted communications.
  • Multiple communication touchpoints 📣 Think welcome emails for new donors, thank you letters via direct mail, social media testimonials, and quarterly or annual progress updates.
  • A plan for engaging lapsed monthly supporters 👋 It may just be that their credit card has expired. Reach out with a friendly message to get them back on track.
  • Exclusive benefits 🎁 Throw in a few perks like special events, insider news updates, and fun merchandise to encourage donors to join your monthly program.

Download your free monthly giving outreach template

You don’t have to craft your new monthly giving appeal from scratch. We’ve done all the research to bring you a free monthly giving communications toolkit that’s filled with templates that you can use to encourage your supporters to sign up.

With templates and sample wording ideas for monthly giving requests for letters, emails, text messages, social media, landing pages, and phone scripts, you can simply add your nonprofit’s details, personalize the messages with your unique voice, and you’re ready to go! 

Real-world examples of monthly giving programs in action

Looking for some monthly giving campaign ideas? Check out these four monthly giving program examples to get your team inspired!

Membership programs 🤝

Offer monthly giving options as part of a membership program. By joining, members may receive benefits like newsletters, access to webinars, or even merchandise. One example of membership program comes from Yea Alabama, which provides several membership levels on their monthly giving “fans” page. Each tier includes access to various opportunities like special events and exclusive content. 

Mission milestones 🏆

Give monthly donors the opportunity to help reach specific mission-related milestones or focus their support on a particular theme or project. Respond Crisis Translation’s donation page, for example, provides several options for gift designations that channel contributions toward specific programs. 

Monthly impact 💪

Encourage supporters to become monthly donors to help meet specific time-bound needs. For example, the St. Louis Queer Plus Support Helpline’s SQSH Star program encourages recurring giving at multiple levels to help fund one month of Peer Support Line phone bills, one week of outreach materials, one allyship course, and more.

Special occasions campaign 🎂

Use special occasions like anniversaries, holidays, or awareness months to promote monthly giving, such as encouraging supporters to support ongoing breast cancer research during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

For example, to celebrate its fifteenth anniversary, the Advocates Professional Golf Association launched APGA Monthly Giving Days, a campaign to promote recurring gifts and keep its programs running strong.

Launch your monthly giving program with Givebutter 

When consistent monthly revenue appears before your eyes, it might look like magic—but it all comes down to strategic planning and determination. Instead of relying solely on your next fundraising event to further your cause and pay the bills, work on creating a system for recurring donations that will keep your mission moving for years to come.  

With Givebutter, running a monthly giving program feels buttery smooth. Set up a user-friendly donation page with suggested donation amounts, offer a variety of payment methods for recurring donations, connect with donors through email and text, and take advantage of a built-in CRM—all for free. You can even enable dynamic upsell messages to encourage donors to turn their one-time donations into recurring gifts right in the donation flow!

Future-proof your fundraising with Givebutter

Sign up for your free Givebutter account to kickstart your monthly giving program today.

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